If you’ve walked around Hillsborough recently, chances are you’ve noticed the light blue flags with a horizontal white X hanging over certain streets.
These flags serve as a reminder that the Outlandish Hillsborough Festival comes to Hillsborough this Saturday and Sunday to celebrate Scottish heritage, colonial history and the Outlander series written by Diana Gabaldon. Gabaldon, who is currently working on the ninth book in the series, even saw her works turned into a television show. In the fourth and fifth books of the series, titled Drums of Autumn and The Fiery Cross, respectively, the main characters settled in North Carolina in a fictional Scottish community.
The success of the books and the ties to North Carolina were more than enough to inspire festivals of the series around the state, and Hillsborough is the latest town to hold its own events for the book.
The Alliance for Historic Hillsborough and Ayr Mount Historic Site are collaborating to bring this celebration to Hillsborough, a festival that will include exhibits, Scottish and Colonial food, talks on historic figures, walking tours around town and a presentation of the movie Braveheart at the Orange County Library. Some of the scholarly talks will include a lecture from an African American and Native American scholar, a Daniel Boone discussion and two Scottish scholars teaching about Scots in North Carolina.
“We kind of wanted to jump on board and do something relevant,” said Annie Newton, Program Coordinator for the Alliance for Historic Hillsborough. “We wanted to ride the wave of popularity with the show and feature the role that Hillsborough and the state plays in the series. So our event on the 12th and the 13th is celebrating and highlighting the North Carolina Colonial History, our Scottish Heritage and the state’s ties to the Highlander books and TV show.”
Although the Alliance for Historic Hillsborough approached the Hillsborough Tourism Board for a grant in April, the planning for the event began months before. With many sponsors teaming up for the festival and interest buzzing from around the state, the event looks to be a hit.
Newton made it clear that even though the event would feature the Outlander books and television show, the festival will be broad and aims to appeal to a much wider audience to help bring the North Carolina community together.
“The history of our state is very diverse and we have a lot of different groups that settled here and we’re kind of hoping to appeal to a wide audience,” Newton said. “So far, again, we’ve had a lot of positive feedback and a lot of people who are very excited about the event.”