This year marks the fifth time runners will line up on the starting line for the annual Braveheart 5K. Held in conjunction with the Taste of Scotland Festival held in Franklin on Father’s Day weekend, the Braveheart 5K stands as a substantial fundraiser for Franklin’s Scottish Tartans Museum.
“As with a lot of nonprofits, funding has steadily been decreasing,” said Ronan MacGregor, museum director. “In order for us to remain open and serve the public we need to supplement the loss through fund raising efforts such as the Braveheart 5K and the Taste of Scotland Festival.”
Franklin’s Scottish Tartan Museum was founded here in North Carolina by the Scottish Tartans Society in 1986. The museum focuses on the history of highland dress, specifically the development of tartan and the kilt.
“Our other exhibits also cover various aspects of Scottish emigrants experience into North Carolina and their interactions with the Cherokee people,” said McGregor. “Visitors to the museum can learn more about the Scottish emigrants to this area, as well as discover their clan or family tartan and gain an appreciation of the richness of the traditions that surround the Scottish National Dress.”
Operating expenses and maintenance on the building have continued to build in past years, making the festival and the Braveheart 5K an important opportunity to keep the museum operating in Franklin.
“The museum has become important to Franklin and Main Street,” said Franklin Mayor Bob Scott. “To see it fold would be a crisis. We cannot afford any more empty buildings and the loss of one of our best known attractions. We need to have more public-private funding going into the museum.
In fact, we need more public funding for all our museums which are non-profit. The 5K brings people in from all over the region as well as local runners. These are the type activities we need for Franklin to become more of a destination rather than a pass through town.”
The Scottish Tartans Museum in Franklin is the only museum of its kind in the United States. The museum draws visitors from all over the world coming in search of their Scottish heritage. “Franklin and the surrounding area have deep Scottish roots,” said MacGregor. “Just by looking in the phone book you can readily see a lot of different Scottish names. Some of the first settlers and traders in this area were of Scottish descent.”
The primary funding for the museum is provided through the museum’s gift shop and the sales that it generates. “With the economy in the shape that it has been in for the past few years we, as have a lot of other nonprofits, have had to rely more on fund raising projects like the Braveheart 5K,” said MacGregor. “This event will help to offset some of the operational expenses that we incur from month to month.”
The museum also has a membership program that is open to all and the "Friends of the Scottish Tartans Museum" that is a volunteer support group that helps us attend different functions so that we may continue our mission.
“They also put together the Taste of Scotland Festival every Father's Day weekend,” said MacGregor. “This festival helps bring people to the town and so helps out not only the museum but other shops and hotels.
After the festival they offer a donation to the museum to help support us.”
During the Taste of Scotland Festival, the museum is opened free of charge for the festival and offers guided tours. “We will also have a booth set up so that people can find out about their clan or family tartan,” said MacGregor. “We are also raffling off a kilt in your clan tartan and two targes (Scottish shields). Tickets are being sold at the museum for $10 per entry. There is a second raffle as well, a Father's Day gift basket full of great things from a golf shirt to books and glasses. These tickets are also sold at the museum for $1 or 6 tickets for $5.”
The Taste of Scotland Festival and events like the Braveheart 5K are crucial to ensure the museum will continue operating in Franklin. “The more people are able to support the Braveheart 5K and the other fundraisers, then we will be able to keep the museum and all the educational information and historical artifacts available to all who wish to learn and enjoy about Scottish and Western North Carolina history,” said MacGregor.
Race entry forms for the Braveheart 5K can be picked up at WNC Sports Zone, the Scottish Tartans Musuem or Franklin Health and Fitness Center. Race Day registration begins at 8 a.m. with the race scheduled to kick off at 9 a.m. The Rob Roy Fun Run starts at 8:30 a.m. and is for children 12 and under.