Getting back to her roots has always been important to Paula Jean Redditt.
Her mother was born in Macon, so she has always considered Georgia her true home even though she moved to the Peach State in 1981 at age 29 after growing up in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.
“People like to think about retiring and going back to where they grew up,” Redditt said. “No, this is my home and I want to be here until Jesus comes to get me.”
That type of attitude is what pushes her to celebrate her heritage so strongly. Redditt is part Scottish and part Welsh. Her grandmother even tells her she is related to the famous orator, Patrick Henry.
Redditt celebrates her Scottish heritage year-round, but it culminates at the Blairsville Scottish Festival and Highland Games. She is the music and entertainment chairwoman.
The festival will be June 10-11 at Meeks Park in Blairsville. It features Scottish events throughout both days. Activities include clan or family gatherings, tents filled with genealogy information and athletic competitions allowing men and women to lift and throw heavy objects. Entertainment will come from bagpipe and drum bands as well as Highland dancing.
All of this simply celebrates the Scottish heritage. And visitors come from all across the country to do it.
“You form a friendship with the athletes,” said David McGregor, who started the Highland Games portion of the festival and competed in it at other festivals for years. “We talk all year long on Facebook and keep abreast of what everyone is doing, so I know a lot of them on a personal level now.”
That sort of atmosphere is what drew Redditt to Scottish festivals in the first place. She still remembers the first time she ever attended one. She went to the Stone Mountain festival to get Scottish fiddle lessons. But it wasn’t the fiddle that impressed her the most, it was everything.
“There’s just something that’s soul stirring when you’re hearing the bagpipes and drums,” Redditt said. “Especially the mass bands when they’re presenting the flags and the wonderful sounds of all the pipers and drummers together.”
That’s why Redditt made kilts for her young children and transitioned them to official kilts when they were older.
“I became more passionate when I had my children and wanted them to understand who and what we are and the responsibility that comes with that,” Redditt said.
The whole family took after their mother regarding music. Her two sons, Joshua and Jacob Craig, play the bagpipe. While Joshua has aspirations of being a policeman, Jacob is a music minister at a church in Vero Beach, Florida.
Redditt daughter, Jessica Craig, teaches music at a school in Illinois and plays the Scottish fiddle.
Her other daughter, Courtney Craig, died in 2001 after battling acute myelocytic leukemia. She played the flute and sang.
Their love for their Scottish heritage and the Scottish Festival keeps Redditt going to this day. She enjoys seeing her work of scheduling the music come together, making her feel “honored and privileged” to be a part of it.
Her children still come to the festival to celebrate their heritage. This year, Joshua and Jessica will be at Meeks Park to teach music.
“It’s just exciting at this point in my life to see my grown children continuing the heritage and the legacy they have through their music,” Redditt said. “It just grows. It keeps growing. You never get tired of it.”