Hot Dates: Hammer tosses, a Harry Potter parody, and Bernstein and Gershwin

Brett Nenaber of Charlotte propels the 20-lbs. bag as he competes in the Sheaf Toss event during last year’s Loch Norman Highland Games.
Brett Nenaber of Charlotte propels the 20-lbs. bag as he competes in the Sheaf Toss event during last year’s Loch Norman Highland Games. dfoster@charlotteobserver.com

A bit of bonnie Scotland Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Scottish Festival and Loch Norman Highland Games at historical Rural Hill: If you’ve never been, you need to.

Rural Hill is the perfect setting for the 22nd games. The site, owned by Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation, was assembled in the 1700s by Maj. John Davidson. He was the son of first-generation Scots who joined the wide migration of Scots from Pennsylvania into the Carolinas. Davidson was a signer of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence in May 1775, declaring its freedom from England.

As the migrating Scots came south, they brought their games and sports with them.

Now the park is vast enough to hold clan and music tents, a stage, a re-enactors’ encampment and athletic events that include please-step-back competitions such as war-hammer tosses (16 or 22 pounds), battle axes (including a woman’s competition), boulders, straw bales and tree trunks known as cabers.

Other contests include foot races, archery and sheepdog herding.

The Call of the Clans is 8 p.m. Friday, and the games begin in earnest on Saturday at 8:30 a.m. with a Highland dancing competition. For details and a schedule, click here.

Directions: Interstate 77 North to Exit 16B (Sunset Road); at second stoplight, turn right onto Beatties Ford Road. In approximately 6.25 miles, turn left onto Neck Road.

Scenes from last year’s festival and games:

Tuesday, “Potted Potter,” about two comedians who run through the seven-novel Harry Potter series in a 70-minute stage show. The act is aided by many costume and song changes and songs. It’s a parody written and performed by former BBC hosts Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner. 7:30 p.m. at Spirit Square’s McGlohon Theater (345 N. College St.). Details, click here.

Wednesday, Charlotte’s Taste of the Nation, celebrating its 20th year. There will be great tastes from 20 Charlotte restaurants, live entertainment and auction items. The event will be held in the atrium at Two Wells Fargo Center. All proceeds from ticket sales – $85 for general admission and $120 for VIP treatment – goes to the national group Share Our Strength’s program to end childhood hunger in America. The Food Network’s Melissa d’Arabian will be there. So will Share Our Strength co-founder Debbie Shore. Details, click here.

Friday, opening at a theater near you: “True Story.” It’s about the relationship between New York Times reporter Michael Finkel (Jonah Hill) and fugitive Christian Longo (James Franco), a murderer on the FBI’s Most Wanted list who lived for years outside the United States under Finkel’s name.

“True Story” trailer:

Also on Friday, a cool classical concert: World-renowned cellist Alisa Weilerstein and pianist Inon Barnatan, two of the world’s great young chamber musicians, will be closing the curtain on Charlotte Concerts’ 85th season. They will team up for an evening of Beethoven, Rachmaninov, Schubert and a rolling world premiere by Joseph Hallman at 8 p.m. at Halton Theater (on Central Piedmont Community College’s campus in Elizabeth). Details, click here.

Weilerstein and Barnatan:

Friday and Saturday at Knight Theater, 7:30 p.m., start spreading the news: From Bernstein’s beloved musicals to George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” it’s a night to let music transport you to the Big Apple. This KnightSounds concert features pianist Phillip Bush in “Rhapsody in Blue,” clarinetist Gene Kavadlo in klezmer music, and the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra and Charlotte Ballet II in dance music by Leonard Bernstein. And get this: it’s being projected outside on a big screen along Levine Avenue of the Arts for people who want to tailgate (so to speak) for free. Details, click here.

Perlmutt: 704-358-5061