Handbook for Commissioners and Conveners

1994 Edition

This page provides extractions on convening from Clan MacLachlan's 1994 Edition of the Handbook for Commissioners and Conveners.

  • What is a Convener?
  • Responsibilities
  • Steps to Sponsoring A Tent
  • Common Practices
  • Special Activities
  • Hold Harmless Agreements and Insurance Issues
  • Handouts
  • The Do-It-Yourself Display
  • Words of Wisdom
  • The following table lists sections within the published handbook that have not been included in this document. Where applicable, a link has been inserted to the appropriate pages within Clan MacLachlan's web site that contain extractions from this original document. In addition, significantly expanded versions of these sections are available in the publication Histories and Legends of Clan MacLachlan.

    What Is a Convener?

    Convening - it is FUN. But, what is it? Convening is the act of sponsoring a display (referred to as a tent) celebrating our MacLachlan Heritage at a Scottish and/or Celtic function, such as a Highland Games. It's meeting people and telling them of their ancestry. It's a way to make new friends and bring joy to some who are not sure they would belong within a Clan. It is a Social Event.

    But, like everything else in today's society, we must take responsibility for our actions while we are convening.

    This handbook has been prepared as an aid to each Commissioner and Convener in putting together a successful display at Scottish functions throughout North America. It also provides us with a definition of our responsibilities.

    The display you sponsor is a reflection of your tastes, your resources, your personality and your creativity. Many suggestions and recommendations are contained herein that have been collected through experience. Use what you believe will be appropriate in expressing your celebration of our heritage. Don't be fooled into thinking you must have everything at once. Most experienced conveners have built their "kits" over several years.


    As a Commissioner or Convener, you represent the Clan MacLachlan Association of North America and, as such your actions speak volumes. We are a small Clan and want to show our Clan Chief and the other Clans that we are proud of our heritage. As such, we want to make the best impression possible on our visitors.

    Our attitude and appearance while at the functions is important to those who visit the display, or attend Clan MacLachlan sponsored functions. The more positive you are, the more of a feeling of kinship that will be felt by our visitors and the more fun everyone will have. You want to make everyone feel welcome.

    Areas of Importance:

    1. While at a clan function, we should be dressed in the tartan of the clan at all times. For some, depending on what garb you may have or can afford, you may have a Glengarry or Balmoral with the Sept pin on it. Others of you who have the full outfit of kilt, brogans, sporran, etc., please wear it. It is of questionable taste to wear more than one tartan simultaneously, nor is it good practice to mix different setts (e.g. hunting with modern or dress).

    2. For women. You may want to wear a white dress with a sash of the clan tartan. Put a rosette in the sash with a pretty pin in the middle, such as a crest pin. The bow and sash should be worn on the right shoulder. For those who can afford a kilted skirt, please wear it. It is of questionable taste for a woman to wear the gentleman's kilt unless she is a participant in a pipe band.

    3. For functions held on both Saturday and Sunday, you may want to dress casually on the opening day. This dress is the native shirt with the leather ties at the neck. If there is a kirkin, you will want to dress in a more formal attire for the kirkin. That would be a Prince Charlie coat or Argyll jacket, white shirt and a tie. If you don't have the coat or jacket, just wear the white shirt with a tie.

    4. Most functions have a parade. No matter how big or small the function, we as a clan are expected to participate. You may carry a sign with MacLachlan well displayed, a crest banner, or a tartan standard. (If you have enough marchers, carry all three items!) You may invite as many MacLachlans as you wish to participate in the parade, however, all should be dressed in the clan tartan, whether it be a scarf, a shawl or the full regalia. (You should also be aware of any limits placed on the parade by the function's sponsor.

    5. Some permit only men to march. Others permit no more than two representatives from each clan.) Please do not have people participate who are not wearing something representative of the clan. Have everyone march behind the banner or sign. For the convener, blue jeans, cut-offs and shorts are not appropriate. (Remember - your dress should be appropriate for the weather. You don't want to wear a 16 ounce worsted kilt at a function where you have 100% humidity and 100 F temperatures.)

      Only those who are members of the Clan MacLachlan Association of North America should join in the parade, unless invited to do so by the Convener or Commissioner. Only the ranking officer from the organization's Executive Committee may march in front of the Clan banner.

    6. If you do not have access to a tent (some functions have tents available for rent), a light weight fly-tent can be purchased from a local retail store. The tent and any other items you display are generally purchased at your expense and remain your property.

    7. Please remember that no one may become a member of our clan unless they are descendants of a MacLachlan (in its over 300 spellings) or a family sept (Gilchrist or MacEwen). A person may become an associate member by working closely with the clan and donating time, labor or money to the clan. This type of membership can only be authorized by direction from either the President or the Vice President of the organization.

    8. Please try to keep the display tent neat and orderly. A cluttered appearance may mean the difference between someone stopping or just passing by.

    9. You, as the convener, are responsible for letting the organization's Secretary known when you are in need of additional applications, listings, handouts and forms. (If you don't let the Secretary know, don't be surprised when you run out!)

    10. As sponsor of a tent for the Clan MacLachlan Association of North America, you should procure an authorization for the sponsorship from the Secretary by submitting a completed sponsorship application. Then, after the event has been held, you should submit a report on the sponsored event to the Regional Commissioner or the Secretary. This report will then be forwarded by the Regional Commissioner to the Secretary.

    11. For the purposes of convening, the CMANA has the Organizational Structure depicted below. Positions such as the Commissioner to Legal Affairs and Commissioner At Large are not shown.


      The Clan MacLachlan Association Of North America
      Executive Board
      CMANA President
      CMANA Vice President
      CMANA Secretary
      CMANA Treasurer


      The Clan MacLachlan Association Of North America
      Regional Organization
      Regional Commissioner
      Regional Commissioner
      Regional Commissioner
      State/Provincial Commissioner
      State/Provincial Commissioner
      State/Provincial Commissioner


    13. The Convener for the Clan MacLachlan Association of North America is responsible for coordinating the representation of the CMANA at a single event. Appointment as convener to an event shall be made on an annual basis. Conveners are appointed by the Regional Commissioner (or the Executive Committee if there is no Regional Commissioner for the region). Any individual that fails to fulfill their responsibilities as Convener may be removed as convener by mandate of the CMANA President, the Executive Committee or the Regional Commissioner.

    14. The State Commissioner for the Clan MacLachlan Association of North America is responsible for coordinating the various events within a state where the CMANA is participating. As such, the State Commissioner coordinates the CMANA's participation with function Conveners. State Commissioners are appointed by the President of the CMANA, with approval by the Executive Committee, at the recommendation of the Regional Commissioner. Any individual that fails to fulfill their responsibilities as a State Commissioner may be removed from office by mandate of the CMANA President, the Executive Committee or the Regional Commissioner.

    15. The Regional Commissioner of the Clan MacLachlan Association of North America is an Appointed Representative of the Association. The Regional Commissioner is responsible for the over-all coordination of all activities within the region. They are responsible for keeping abreast of issues affecting the Scottish Community in general (and the CMANA in specific) within their region. At the Association level, the Regional Commissioners are responsible for participating in the Board of Commissioners and for keeping the Executive Committee appraised of issues that affect the CMANA and providing guidance to the State Commissioners and Conveners within their region. The Regional Commissioners are appointed by the President of the CMANA with approval of the Executive Committee.

    16. The CMANA Treasurer, or the Treasurer's Regional Designate, shall be responsible for the collection, budgeting and disbursement of all funds, including Regional. All Treasurer's Regional Designates acting on behalf of the CMANA Treasurer shall be nominated by the CMANA Treasurer and approved by the Executive Committee. Any individual that fails to fulfill their responsibilities as the Treasurer's Regional Designate may be removed from office by mandate of the CMANA President, the CMANA Treasurer or the Executive Committee.

    17. The Clan MacLachlan Association of North America is divided into the following Administrative Regions:

    18. The Clan MacLachlan Association Of North America
      Region 1 - NEW ENGLAND
      Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island
      Region 2 - NORTHEAST
      New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania
      Region 3 - MIDDLE ATLANTIC
      Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, District of Columbia, Delaware, North Carolina
      Region 4 - SOUTHEAST
      Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands
      Region 5 - MID-SOUTH
      Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee
      Region 6 - SOUTH CENTRAL
      Wisconsin, Illinois, Eastern Missouri
      Region 7 - GREAT LAKES
      Ohio, Indiana, Michigan
      Region 8 - NORTH CENTRAL
      Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota
      Region 9 - WESTERN PLAINS
      Nebraska, Kansas, Western Missouri
      Region 10 - GULF CENTRAL
      Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma
      Region 11 - ROCKY MOUNTAIN SOUTH
      Colorado, New Mexico, Eastern Wyoming
      Region 12 - ROCKY MOUNTAIN NORTH
      Montana, Southern Idaho, Western Wyoming, Utah
      Region 13 - PACIFIC SOUTHWEST
      Southern California, Arizona, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam
      Region 14 - MIDDLE PACIFIC
      Nevada, Northern California
      Region 15 - PACIFIC NORTHWEST
      Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Northern Idaho
      Region C1 - WESTERN CANADA
      British Columbia, Alberta, Yukon Territory, Northwest Territory
      Saskatchewan, Manitoba
      Ontario, Western Quebec
      Region C4 - EASTERN CANADA
      Eastern Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland

    Steps to Sponsoring A Tent

    As a Commissioner or Convener, the following procedure should be followed to sponsor a Tent for the Clan MacLachlan Association:

    1. Complete and return a Request for CMANA Event Sponsorship. This may include acquiring our Clan Association's hold-harmless agreement from the Secretary, securing copies of the membership application, etc. The application is to be returned either to the Regional Commissioner (who will then forward it on) or to the Secretary. This request is required to be on file for insurance liability purposes.

    2. Write local members inviting them to attend the function and to let them know that you are going to be there. If you do not have a recent membership roster, contact the Regional Commissioner or the Secretary. Be sure to send an invitation to both the CMANA President and the Vice President. A sample notification card has been included in the supplements.

    3. The invitation should contain the name of the event, its location, when it is being held and applicable admission costs. It is also a good idea to include an address and telephone number for the sponsor of the event in case there are further questions. Another nice touch is to highlight special activities associated with the event.

    4. Attend the function. Assemble your tent as early as possible. If you have the time and the function permits early setup, you might want to assemble the tent the day before the function. Set out the display before the function opens each morning. You should not tear down your display any earlier than 1/2 hour before the function closes. Always try to arrange for someone to help you during the set-up and tear down stages.

    5. Write a function report. It should contain any highlights (awards and prizes won by MacLachlans, people of special interest that came by, etc.) associated with the event, the names of any CMANA members that stopped by and a count on the number of MacLachlans that stopped by. Include any photographs taken that you wish to share. Be sure to identify all people and scenes within the photographs.

    6. This report will be submitted to the Editor of the newsletter for publication. If available, the report may be submitted in an electronic format. Straight text format would be preferred as it will avoid conversion problems between word processor formats.

    7. Return a copy of the Guest Registry and Post Event Report to the Regional Commissioner (who will forward it on) or the Clan Secretary. Be sure to indicate whether or not follow-up letters have been mailed.
    Sometimes, if time is short, it may be necessary to either send out parallel copies of all registration materials (those for the event and those for the CMANA) or to send the registration materials directly to the Clan Secretary who will then mail the event's registration materials directly to the event. (If the latter option is selected, please be sure to tell the Secretary.)

    If the registration materials are received at least six weeks in advance of the event, and if requested, the CMANA Secretary can generate and distribute notifications on your behalf similar to the example contained in the supplements. The Secretary will also have sufficient time available to return additional copies of applications and handouts you may need.

    Why does the CMANA want all of these reports? Simple - sponsoring a tent is not an easy task, and we want to recognize you for your efforts. In addition, the information provides is used in tracking the activities of the CMANA across North America. The Secretary also forwards a copy of the function reports to the Editor of the newsletter and the webmaster for publication which provides the Association with the ability to recognize you for your efforts. Other pieces of information collected from the requests, reports and event registration materials is used in keeping the CMANA Scottish Events listing up-to-date.

    This procedure has been set up for the protection of both you and the CMANA. It has also been designed to make optimal use of our limited resources.


    Common Practices

    1. All membership applications and funds received for membership must be sent directly to the CMANA Secretary. (Cash received for memberships should not be sent through the mail. Instead, please substitute a check or money order.)

    2. Memberships are active from July 1 through June 30 of the next year.

    3. All entry fees to functions are typically paid directly by the Commissioner or Convener or reimbursed from CMANA Regional allocations. (A portion of each membership is collected by the CMANA for use within the Region in which the member resides.) The Association may also opt to help fund these activities out of the general budget.

    4. Please remember, to insure timeliness, all expenses at the functions should be pre-paid by the Commissioner or Convener. This includes equipment rentals and materials bought for the tent. The Commissioner or Convener may then apply for reimbursement of allowed expenses from the CMANA Regional allocations. (All property whose purchase is paid for by the Commissioner or Convener and not reimbursed will remain the property of the Commissioner or Convener.)

    5. The Commissioner and Convener may be reimbursed for expenses associated with convening (space, rental fees, business card sized program advertisements, least expensive sponsorship fees), advertising upcoming CMANA activities (notification duplication and postage costs) and newsletters (duplication and postage costs). Tickets for actual attendees other than those contained within entry packages and consumable items such as food are not reimbursable.

    6. If you as a Commissioner, Regional Commissioner, or Convener visit a function which is being convened by another individual, as a matter of diplomacy, you are a visiting dignitary. The other individual is still responsible for the tent and how it looks. You may make suggestions; however, you are a guest to his/her tent.

    7. As a person visits the tent, attempt to get a membership from him/her. The averages are against us if we wait until they have left the function to ask them to become a member. Note - you do not want to use the hard sell; we would rather have a member that is a repeat member, not a one-time impulse member.

    8. If you are a tent Convener and the Commissioner, Regional Commissioner or a CMANA Officer visits, please introduce them to visitors who come to the tent.

    9. As a Commissioner, you are responsible for the activities within your geographical area. All Commissioners and Conveners should notify the Clan Secretary directly of all activities you will be sponsoring. (This helps the CMANA maintain an up-to-date listing of Scottish Events.)

    10. Be friendly to everyone. The whole purpose is to promote pride in our Scottish heritage. Be as helpful as possible. If possible, know where the other clan tents are. (People will ask where Clan Mac-So-and-so is.)

    11. If you have items for sale at the tent, have them away from the main display. We are participating in the function to promote our heritage, not as a vendor to make money. Some functions actually go so far as to prohibit the sale of anything from the Clan tents, so check first. (Vendors typically pay hefty fees for the right to sell goods at a function, which we do not pay. A tent that looks too much like a vendor's booth might cause considerable embarrassment.) It would be far better to provide interested visitors with a list of items available. Do not sell drink or food from the tent unless you have all applicable state, local and function permits.

    12. Remember, as a Commissioner or Convener, you hold your position for a limited time. While typically renewed, our positions are not an ongoing year to year assignment that should be taken for granted. To maintain your position and title, you must be a member of the CMANA in good standing.


    Special Activities

      Sponsoring A Lunch

      One method of promoting kinship and excitement between both Clan members and potential members is to supply a picnic lunch during a Scottish function. We all know how aggravating it is to stand in lines to purchase food at the vendor's booths, and any opportunity to avoid a line is more than welcome.

      1. A simple lunch of sandwiches and chips is relatively inexpensive and easy to pack in coolers and bags. If the members and/or convener supplies lunch meat, bread, sodas, condiments (mayonnaise, mustard, cheese), plates, napkins, plastic silverware, ice and paper cups, the total cost for a large two-day gathering should cost around $60.00. Much of this list can be purchased through a local restaurant supply store, thereby reducing the cost even more.

      2. Association members attending the function should be encouraged to bring things too, particularly if they have a favorite Scottish recipe. Examples are desserts (cookies, cupcakes), salads, chips, homemade canned goods, etc.

      3. To cover these expenses, you can ask other Association members if they would be interested in helping to sponsor the lunch with contributions. Indicate any amount would be greatly appreciated. CMANA funds can not be used to reimburse consumable items such as food and drink.

      4. Make a sign listing the names of all people who have contributed to sponsor the lunch. This includes both food and financial. If a member contributed a special food item, if possible, have copies of the recipe available for anyone interested.

      5. For those events with members wishing to contribute a more elaborate spread, consider having the luncheon catered. For approximately $150, you should be able to find a caterer that will supply enough food to feed about 50 people. Have the caterer prepare Scottish foods such as forfar bridies, meat pies, sausage rolls and scotch eggs. (See the supplemental information for recipes.) You would be amazed at the difference between the commercially produced products sold by the food vendors and the homemade products made by a caterer.

      6. It is important that no charge be made for any food or drink as this is freely given as a friendly gesture to the visitors to the tent. The reasons are that any charge could bring you and the Clan Association within the requirements for a common vendor of food license and fees and/or expose yourself and/or the Clan Association to any liability commonly associated with such a license.

      You might consider having a business sponsor this activity with money donated and a sign stating from whom the food was donated.

      Sponsoring A Clan Tent Barbecue

      As a special treat for Association members, you could also hold an evening barbecue after the function's close. Be sure to tell people about the event so they stick around for the barbecue. (This activity is best attended when held on a Saturday evening in the middle of a two day function.)

      1. A simple barbecue is also easy to pack in coolers and bags, though its a bit more expensive than the luncheon. If the members and/or convener supplies hamburgers, hot dogs, buns, sodas, condiments (mayonnaise, mustard, cheese), plates, napkins, plastic silverware, ice and paper cups, the total cost for a 20 person gathering should cost around $30.00. As with the lunch, much of this list can be purchased through a local restaurant supply store, thereby reducing the cost.

      2. Association members attending the function should again be encouraged to bring things, particularly if they have a favorite Scottish recipe. Examples are desserts (cookies, cupcakes), salads, chips, homemade canned goods, etc.

      3. To cover these expenses, you can ask other Association members if they would be interested in helping to sponsor the barbecue with contributions. Indicate any amount would be greatly appreciated. CMANA funds can not be used to reimburse consumable items such as food and drink.

      4. Make a sign listing the names of all people who have contributed to sponsor the lunch. This includes both food and financial. If a member contributed a special food item, if possible, have copies of the recipe available for anyone interested.

      5. As stated above, it is important that no charge be made for any food or drink as this is freely given as a friendly gesture to the visitors to the tent.

      Sponsoring A Clan Picnic

      The Clan Picnic can be held any time. Like any other picnic associated with an extended group of attendees, it involves making arrangements for the gathering, notifying everyone and getting together. The picnic can also be used as an opportunity to get to know members of other clans in your area under less formal conditions.

      1. The most important task with scheduling a picnic is determining when and where the picnic will be held. Local, state and national parks are always popular places for such events. Be sure to consider applicable weather conditions, highway accessibility and regulations on activities (such as alcoholic beverages) before you decide on your location. Also be aware that there may be costs associated with renting the location.

      2. The typical picnic is also easy to pack in coolers and bags. Like the barbecue, it will also be a bit more expensive than the luncheon. If the members and/or convener supplies hamburgers, hot-dogs, buns, sodas, condiments (mayonnaise, mustard, cheese), plates, napkins, plastic silverware, ice and paper cups, the total cost for a 20 person gathering should cost around $50.00. Again, much of this list can be purchased through a local restaurant supply store, thereby reducing the cost.

      3. Association members attending the function should again be encouraged to bring things, particularly if they have a favorite Scottish recipe. Examples are desserts (cookies, cupcakes), salads, chips, homemade canned goods, etc.

      4. To cover facility rental expenses, funds from the CMANA Regional allocation may be used. To cover other expenses, you can ask other Association members if they would be interested in helping to sponsor the picnic with contributions. Indicate any amount would be greatly appreciated. CMANA funds can not be used to reimburse consumable items such as food and drink.

      5. Make a sign listing the names of all people who have contributed to sponsor the lunch. This includes both food and financial. If a member contributed a special food item, if possible, have copies of the recipe available for anyone interested.

      6. As stated above, if the picnic is held in conjunction with a non-CMANA sponsored event, it is important that no charge be made for any food or drink as this is freely given as a friendly gesture to the visitors to the picnic. It is permissible to charge a nominal fee if the event is being sponsored by the CMANA and is not being held in conjunction with another non-CMANA sponsored activity.

      Sponsoring A Clan Dinner

      A more formal Regional Clan Dinner can also be held. It is recommended that formal activities like this be held in conjunction large Scottish Highland events. Due to the cost, plan on holding only one dinner during the course of the year per region. All Association members within the region should be encouraged to attend and pay their fair share.

      What is the Clan Dinner? Its a formal meal that can include entertainment, an open forum or possibly business meetings. All food should be catered. Contrary to popular belief, Scottish food can be prepared and served, thereby contributing to the ambiance of the evening.

      1. First, a Highland function needs to be selected as the occasion for the dinner. (The selection process should be started at least six months prior to the dinner.) Its recommended that the function be a larger one as it will help draw existing and new members. Generally, the larger functions will have the most activities and provide the most opportunity for adequate lodging.

      2. Determine what menu you would like to have served at the Dinner. (Since the Dinner is being held in conjunction with a Scottish function, Scottish fare would most definitely be in order. See the supplemental section for sample menus and recipes.) Plan on serving appetizers, an entree, at least one vegetable, a salad, a starch and a dessert. Its important that you have an idea as to what you want to have served when you contact a restaurant. You should also have an estimate for how many will be attending and know whether the group will be need a private facility or can be seated in an open restaurant.

      3. Contact the Better Business Bureau or other Tourist Agency near the site of the Highland event to find the names of restaurants that have banquet facilities and might willing to prepare your desired menu. Be sure the restaurant has a cash bar. (Be sure to ask that the bartender have single malt whiskeys, blended whiskeys, Bass Ale and MacEwen's Ale available.) Negotiate with the restaurant to settle on a per person price. (Be sure to include a price for both adults and children.) You will probably need to provide the restaurant with a copy of the recipes before they will be able to give you a price. The price should include the tax and gratuity.

      4. Once the arrangement has been made, advertise the dinner to all Association members in the region. Be sure to state the cost per adult and child. Allow yourself a sufficient response deadline to give the restaurant a 50% deposit (some may require a larger deposit) at least two weeks in advance. Be sure to include hotel/motel/camping reservation information. You should also send a copy of your advertisement to the restaurant for their records.

      5. Make arrangements to have someone present that can say a benediction prior to eating. The blessing itself should center around the family heritage being celebrated by the festival.

      6. If you desire and the facilities are available at the restaurant, plan on having some form of entertainment. It can be as simple as a film on Scotland or a discussion on MacLachlan History or as complicated as a piping/dancing demonstration. You may even find that some of your dinner guests will be willing to perform. (Use your discretion on this.)

      7. To cover facility and equipment rental costs, funds from the CMANA Regional allocation may be used. To cover other expenses, you can ask other Association members if they would be interested in helping to sponsor the dinner with contributions. Indicate any amount would be greatly appreciated. An alternative suggestion is to build the cost of the dinner into the price-per-person. CMANA funds can not be used to reimburse consumable items such as food and drink.

      8. Don't leave the leftovers! The food has been paid for, and there is no need to waste it. If the Scottish function is a multi-day event, bring the leftovers to the tent on the following day. Otherwise, offer the leftovers to the members in attendance.


        Hold Harmless Agreements and Insurance Issues

        Remember that as Commissioners and Conveners, you are not to sign a Hold Harmless agreement other than the Clan Association agreement that will be sent to you by the Secretary. Some Highland Functions require that a clan sign one of these agreements before a clan may participate. If you are given one to sign, please forward it to the Regional Commissioner for approval. If you were to sign one, and a guest were to be injured under your tent and were to sue, you and the Clan Association could be held liable while the sponsoring organization would be exempt, even if it were at fault.

        This is an example of a hold harmless agreement that should NOT be signed:

        The ___________________________ organization agrees to release and hold harmless the ___________________________________ Games Association, the city of ________________ and all sponsors and officials, including their agents and employees, from all claims, suits or any other actions for personal injuries, including death, and damages to property, real or personal, caused by the Organization and/or its members arising out of the Organization's involvement in the ___________________________ Games while members/visitors of the Organization are within their respective area of operation/responsibility (i.e. Clan/Society Tent).

        ____________________________________ Date: _______________________
        Signature of Authorized Agent

        The CMANA has developed its own Hold Harmless Agreement which it transmits to the Sponsoring Organization. This form has been developed to comply with the actual insurance clauses that govern clan Tents at the Festivals.

        Basically, the Clan Association Hold Harmless Agreement recites that you, as a Clan Association representative, will hold harmless or exempt to sponsoring organization from personal injury or property damage sustained in the area immediately under the tent. Third parties, other than the sponsoring organization, will still be liable for whatever negligence they may cause that would injure you or damage your property.

        Therefore, for your own protection, you should make sure you have the proper insurance to cover your own health, dental, personal property liability and/or accident insurance for your activities at the event. Check with your agent. Guests and visitors may be and usually are covered by insurance procured by the sponsoring organization. It is important, therefore, to establish what insurance the sponsoring organization has. This is done by the Commissioner or Convener requesting a written description of their coverage for the event. This point is noted in the form attached herewith entitled "Request for CMANA Event Sponsorship".


          Guest Handout

          The Guest Handout should be available to all visitors to the Clan tent and should be enclosed in a booklet. It includes the following:
          1. History - a brief history of Clan MacLachlan. An example has been provided in this handbook.
          2. Informative Descriptions - descriptions of such things as the coat-of-arms and clan crest. An example has been provided in this handbook.
          3. Spellings - a list of possible last name spellings. An example is supplied in this handbook.
          4. Articles - copies of any articles that have been published about Clan MacLachlan. Before you reproduce these articles, be sure the Clan holds a Right to Reprint form. You will need an executed copy of this before a local printer will reproduce the articles.
          5. Application - a membership application form for the Association.
          Assembled handouts are available from the Secretary.

          Genealogical Hints

          You should have copies of the Searching For Your Family Roots for those visitors interested and a pedigree chart with the address of the National Secretary.

          Extra Applications

          Have plenty of extra Association membership applications available. Often, visitors will want to take extras to pass out to their relatives.

          Completed Applications

          All applications must be returned to the CMANA Secretary.

          Thank You Note

          The thank you note is sent out to visitors that stop by the tent and sign in. It indicates how much you appreciate the patron's visit and provides you with another chance to discuss our Association. You can use the sample contained in the supplemental information or you can write your own. It should include a description of what Clan MacLachlan is and who they should contact for further information.


        The Do-It-Yourself Display

        This section contains a series of ideas on how to construct pieces for your convening kit. These suggestions are inexpensive when compared to buying their pre-manufactured equivalent. They also allow for individual creativeness and talents.

          Curtain Rod Standards

          Curtain rod standards can be easily constructed to hold your flags. These standards are light weight and relatively inexpensive to make. The flag itself should have grommets for attaching onto the pole. You can attach it to the pole using re-usable hardware like large key rings and screw closure chain links.
          Materials: One 5' to 8' wooden curtain or closet rod of 1 1/2 inch diameter, one center screw wooden curtain cap, two 1/2 inch brass eye hooks for wood, carpenter's glue, polyurethane or varnish.
          Tools: Hand saw, paint brush, drill with bits

          Take the curtain or closet rod and screw the decorative wooden curtain end cap into one end. You will use the brass eye hooks as the banner attachment points. Drill holes for the eye hooks to prevent the wooden rod from splitting. The holes should be drilled so that the first is about 3 inches below the cap. Align the upper grommet in the flag with this hole and stretch the flag down the pole. The second should placed so that it is aligned with the lower grommet in the flag. Screw the brass eye hooks into the drilled holes. The entire banner pole can be sealed with a weather resistant finish such as polyurethane. The standard/flag itself can be purchased pre-made, made from a piece of tartan, or sewn on banner material.

          Informational Display

          All conveners run into the problem with displaying items that may be damaged by the weather. This can include posters, maps, tea towels and the family tree. These displays can be constructed in almost any size needed to provide some protection (weather resistance) to your property, but they are not weatherproof.
          Materials: Pressure treated lattice edging with a 1/2" groove, architect's building construction board (1/4" thick), a sheet of 4 mil clear hard plastic, a sheet of plywood (1/4" thick), paste, two 1/4" hooks, picture wire, finishing nails. 
          Tools: Miter box and saw, circular saw, utility knife, hammer, drill with bits 

          Determine the size of the item/poster being displayed. Using the circular saw, cut the plywood to that size plus 2 inches. Use the utility knife to cut the architect's construction board and the clear plastic to the same size as the plywood. Place the architect's construction board on top of the plywood. Then, paste the item/poster onto the architect's construction board so that it is centered. (You should have about a 1 inch overhang on all sides.) Lay the plastic on top of the base.

          Cut the pressure treated lattice edging into four lengths to place around the plywood base. Use the miter saw. Remember to allow for the right angles and the groove depth. Assemble the lattice edging around the plywood base just like you would a frame around a picture. Use the finishing nails to hold the four pieces together. Drill holes from the front through the plastic and plywood. (Use a bit that is of smaller diameter than the finishing nails.) Then, drive finishing nails through the holes you have just drilled to hold the frame securely onto the plywood base. The eye hooks and picture wire are needed if you intend to hang the display up.

          Display Supports

          Many items you have to display may be damaged if you don't have them off the ground. Thus, some sort of portable support may be needed. A moderately inexpensive approach is to use old copper tubing to accomplish this. If you live where homes may freeze in the winter, you can frequently find damaged baseboard pipes that will work just fine.
          Materials: Lengths of 1/2 inch copper pipe, two 1/2 inch copper "T" joints, two 1/2 inch copper pipe end caps, two 1/2 inch 90 degree copper angles, two 1 inch long bolt style eye hooks with nuts, resin, solder.
          Tools: Torch, pipe cutter, drill with bits. 

          Cut the lengths of pipe to the lengths you want to surround the item being displayed. Allow for at least a one inch gap on all sides. Cut two additional lengths to raise the display up off the ground. Solder the end caps onto one end of each riser. Solder the other end on each riser into the "T" joints in such a way so that the 90 degree junction is at 90 degrees to the riser. Solder the length of pipe that will be on the bottom of the display into the 90 degree junction of both riser assemblies. Solder the side support lengths into the other junctions. Assemble the top length and the right angles. Place them onto the support, the solder all remaining junctions. Drill two holes in the top length directly above the points where the displayed item will be hung. Use the bolt eye hooks and nuts to create the hanging points. You might want to solder the nut onto the bolt to prevent it from coming apart.

          Name Banners

          A name banner is carried in the tartan parade, typically by two people. It has the Clan's name displayed in letters that are large enough to be read at a distance. While it would be rather expensive to use tartan for this, one can generally find a nice cotton cloth at reasonable cost.
          Materials: One 8' wooden curtain rod/closet rod of 2 inch diameter, two center screw wooden curtain rod end caps, two 1/2 inch eye hooks, screw closure chain links, one sheet of peg board (4 foot by 2 foot), 1 yard of 60" wide material, 4" tall painted styrofoam letters that spell out "Clan MacLachlan", carpenter's glue, varnish or polyurethane, Scotch Guard.
          Optional: Clan Crest, one foot across. 
          Tools: Drill with bits, yard stick, utility knife, grommet kit, hammer. 

          Take the curtain or closet rod and screw the decorative wooden curtain end cap into each end. You will use the 1/2 eye hooks as the attachment points for the peg board. The eye hooks should be at least 2'3" in from the end of the pole. (Remember to measure this distance before you attach the end caps.) Drill holes for the eye hooks to prevent the wooden rod from splitting. The entire pole can be sealed with a weather resistant finish such as polyurethane. This pole is used to hold the name board. It will have a 2' length on each side for carrying.

          Spread a 3" wide strip of glue on one end of peg board. On this end, lay the material over peg board. (If the material you are using has a pattern, extra care is needed as you lay the material down to insure you keep the pattern straight. Use yard stick to press material evenly onto to the board. Repeat spreading the glue and pressing the material until all of board has been covered. Allow the board to dry for at least 24 hours. You can paint the styrofoam letters while you wait.

          On what is to be the top side of the cloth covered peg board, measure a point on the left that is 3" in from the left side and 1" below the top side. Repeat this for the right side. Drill a 1/2 inch hole at these points. Using the grommet kit, close the holes with a grommet.

          Lay the painted styrofoam letters out onto the display board before gluing them down. Once they have been spaced evenly, glue the letters in place. Allow space for the crest if you are going to install one. Once the glue holding the letters to the material has dried, you can attach the optional crest.

          Spray the entire board with Scotch Guard. This will make it water resistant.

          Use the screw close chain links to hold the board onto the pole.

          Flag Pole Holders

          These flag pole holders are inexpensive and can be either pounded into the ground or held attached to the tent supports via tape/velcro. Be sure to assemble this in a well ventilated area!
          Materials: One 18" length on 1 1/2" diameter PVC pipe, one 1 1/2 inch PVC pipe end cap, one 1 1/2 inch PVC pipe coupler, one 4 foot (or 5 foot) sturdy garden stake, two 3" plumbers "O" clamps, PVC glue and silver spay paint. 
          Tools: Hand saw to cut PVC, screw driver, drill with bits. 

          Glue the PVC end cap onto one end of the 18" PVC tube. Glue the coupler onto the other end. Allow the glue 30 minutes to dry. Drill a 1/4 inch hole into the end cap to allow water to drain from the tube. Lay the PVC tube assembly onto the garden stake so that the top of the coupler is even with the top of the stake. Use the "O" clamps to secure the tube to the stake. Then spray paint the entire holder.

          To use, you can drive the stake into the ground. (Be sure to hammer on the stake and not the PVC tube.) Or, you can tape the garden stake to one of the poles holding up the tent. (This raises the flags and standards even higher!)

          Cloth Forms and Brochure Holder

          If you, a relative, or a friend are handy at sewing, you can also make a cloth handout dispenser with an elastic straps to keep the opening closed. Actual measurements and size will depend on the tables you integrate into your display.

          The Shower Curtain Rain Wall

          While the clear plastic rain wall presents an inexpensive method of keeping the weather out, it does have two shortcomings. First, it is hard to re-use the plastic. Secondly, it is rather unsightly in appearance. George McGlauflin from Bangor, Maine, submitted this tasteful alternative.

          George uses the standard 70" by 72" shower curtain liners as his rain wall. While they are translucent and will let plenty of light in, they should not be mistaken for transparent. Printed shower curtains could be used, at a considerably higher cost.

          For self supporting tents with horizontal support bars approximately six feet above the ground, George found that shower curtains attached rather easily to the horizontal support bars. With the exception of hanging the curtains, no additional labor or parts were required.
          Materials: Eight 70" by 72" shower curtain liners (two for each side to insure complete closure), 96 removable shower curtain clips, 2 to 3 dozen spring clips or strong cloths pins. 
          Tools: None. 

          Installation for the standard 12' fly top is a little different as it involves the manufacture of "shower rods" for hanging the curtains.  
          Materials: Same as above, four 10' lengths of 1/2" EMT (or PVC), four eye bolts large enough for chain to pass through which are fastened to the four corner poles of the tent, 48' of chain or rope. 
          Tools: Drill with bits (or some other method of attaching eye bolts to poles).

          It is necessary to install horizontal rods of some sort to hang the curtains. If you can find used hard copper, go for it. Otherwise, 1/2" electric metallic tubing (EMT) or 1/2" PVC pipe will suffice. (Metal tubing would be less fragile than the PVC.) Since 10 foot lengths are being used, it will be necessary to run a support line through the tubing. Light chain is recommended, but nylon rope will also due. The support is anchored at the corner poles by running through eye bolts permanently attached to the poles. This method of using 10' lengths eliminates the need to splice the tubing, which would still have to be anchored. The EMT should be rigid enough to prevent any sag in the curtains.

          The Plastic Rain Wall

          If the function is being held on a rainy day, you may need walls to keep your display dry.
          Materials: Rope, roll of 3 mil thick 10 foot wide clear plastic, clothes pins
          Tools: Utility knife. 

          Tie the rope between the tops of the poles of the tent. Fold the plastic over the rope and secure it in place with clothes pins. If the wind is blowing, weight the other side of the plastic down with rocks and any other items with weight.

          Women's Scottish Dress - The Arasaid

          When we women wear our tartan to Scottish Games or other functions, it is usually in the form of a kilted skirt or sash. These are essential pieces of any Scotswoman's wardrobe. The usefulness of a plaid skirt goes without saying and a sash can be worn over the shoulder or around the waist. But for fun, why not try the older style of dress, where a large piece of tartan is used as part of your clothes, rather than an accessory. A large piece draped around you is unusual and quite beautiful. We've all heard that women "are not supposed to wear kilts", so this is chance to be creative. After all, tartan is a versatile garment, used to keep out the elements, as well as looking beautiful.

          One such style of wearing tartan is the arasaid. This is an extremely simple outfit where the tartan is worn over your clothes. It keeps you warm on cold days, while being loose enough to wear on warm days without becoming too hot. There is no pattern, cutting or necessary sewing (which is great for those of us who don't know how to sew.)

          Take 3 yards of 60" wide material. You need this width to go around you so the tartan will fall gracefully and create a full skirt effect. Gather the tartan width around your waist and allow enough length to create a long skirt. Belt the material around your waist. (To avoid having to measure the length every time, you can sew a seam and run a narrow belt or a cloth sash of a matching color through the seam.) Now you have an open long skirt worn over a dress with a very long piece of material going down the back. Take the 2 corners at the end of that long piece and tie them in a knot. You can put your arm through the "loop" with the knot on your shoulder. Now you have a very lovely drape of tartan down your back, similar to a plaid. If it is a cool day, put the loop around your neck with the tartan drape around your shoulders. If it's raining, put it up over your head. Simple, isn't it!

          The arasaid can be worn over a long, full skirt as your "gaming" outfit. In fact, one visitor to the tent decided to use it as part of her wedding dress. It will keep you warm at the New Hampshire Highland Games where it may be 40 degrees and raining, or be shade you from the sun on a hot day in Florida. If the humidity isn't too high, it's still comfortable.

          If you decide to wear the arasaid to Highland Games, don't make the skirt too long. Keep it just above the ankle. Since clan tents are so often set up on dusty fields, you don't want the bottom to drag on the ground.

          Thank you to one of our members, Marjorie Warren, for telling about the arasaid. She was her wearing one a few years ago and it was just beautiful.

          The Historical Re-Enactment

          Over the past few years, many people have become interested in both their Scottish Ancestry and participating in Living History re-enactments. This dual interest can actually be combined through the development of a display that emphasizes their interest in living history while at the same time serves to shares our common MacLachlan heritage.

          For example, if you are a regular participant in any of the Civil War Re-Enactment groups, you can integrate this experience into your CMANA presentation. Since the Ohio 8th Infantry wore tartan trousers as part of their uniform, a pair of trousers in one of the older MacLachlan setts could easily be substituted.

          This same concept can be applied equally as well to individuals participating in Revolutionary and Culloden Era Re-Enactments. Simply substitute articles of clothing made of MacLachlan tartan for the clothing you might typically use.

          While Modern MacLachlan tartan could easily be used for Civil War re-enactments, if you want authenticity, it may be inappropriate for use in re-enactments dating from before 1820. (It didn't exist.) You might substitute the Old MacLachlan instead.


        Words of Wisdom

        This section provides experiences collected by Commissioners, Conveners and Officers as they attended various games. Use this information to make sponsoring your tent easier.

        Indispensable Items

        You will find the following items to be absolutely indispensable in the tent:
        1. Guest register sign-in sheet.
        2. A handout with the clan history on it, and a place for applications for membership. (This information is available later in this handbook.)
        3. A handout or sign with the different spellings of Clan MacLachlan. (This information is also available in later sections.)
        4. A table with a table cloth.
        5. A genealogy sheet to be handed out for those visitors who are interested. (See supplementary material.)
        6. A sign or banner to be placed in front of the tent so that visitors will know who you are.
        7. Chairs to sit on. (Usually 4 to 6 are sufficient.)
        8. A map of Scotland.
        9. Pens, pencils and paper.
        10. Name tags and badges.
        11. A copy of the most recent ROEBUCK newsletter.
        12. If provided by the event sponsor, a map showing where the clan tents are.

        Almost Indispensable Items

        Items which you may want to include in your tent (but are not absolutely necessary) are:
        1. A cooler full of pop/sodas to serve to the guests who may come to the tent. Don't forget the bottle opener.
        2. A picture or drawing of the MacLachlan crest. (See supplementary material.)
        3. Pictures/postcards showing the Clan Chief and castle(s).
        4. Samples of the different tartans of the clan: dress, modern (sometimes referred to as Red MacLachlan), ancient, weathered and hunting.
        5. If you have one, a business card.
        6. Shortbread or some form of Scottish food to hand out as samples.
        7. A copy of any cookbooks used to produce the samples given out.
        8. Other books you may have about Scotland or written by/about MacLachlans.
        9. Any other Clan MacLachlan paraphernalia you may have.
        10. A copy of the April Issue of The Highlander. It contains names and addresses for most Scottish Organizations and is used as a supplemental reference to Tartan For Me.
        11. A copy of the book Tartan For Me by Philip D. Smith, 4th Edition, to serve as a reference to help non-MacLachlan visitors find their clan. The latest edition costs about $20.00.
        12. A book showing different tartans. It is also used as a supplemental reference to Tartan For Me.
        13. Vendor catalogs showing where to purchase clan related items.
        14. An Items on Display Are Not For Sale sign or a NOT-FOR-SALE stamp that can be used on your display materials.
        15. Any photographs you have of Scottish functions, particularly ones of the same function from previous years.


        The following list of books is highly recommended as a tent staple:
        Book Title Author
        Tartan For Me (4th Edition) Philip D. Smith
        Scots Kith and Kin Clan House
        So You're Going To Wear The Kilt J. Charles Thompson
        The Highlander, Directory Issue Angus J. Ray Associates
        Always Room For One More Sorche Nic Leodhas
        The Clan Almanac C. McLean
        District Tartans Gordon Teall of Teallach and Philip D. Smith, Jr.
        Scottish Clan & Family Names Roddy Martine
        Scotland - Land of Kin and Clan R.W. Munro
        The Surnames of Scotland George F. Black


        It may take you several functions before you determine what set-up is best. Don't expect to have the best set-up on your first attempt. Remember to allow easy access to all parts of the tents and a neat, orderly display for your visitors.

        Guide Wire Visibility

        For visitor safety, make your tent guide wires visible. To do this, you should tie brightly colored ribbons to the lines or you could wrap colored nylon ropes around the lines.


        Plastic stakes may work at some functions, but you may find your function is being held over a field of concrete fill. You can use 12 inch bolts with extra large washers as a cheap way to solve this problem. In addition, you might consider using surveyors stakes bent over. In addition, you might set your poles in buckets with cement. If you use stakes, take extra - you may need them. Galvanized 8" nails also make great stakes. They can be found at most camping supply stores and hardware stores.

        Cheap Tents

        While fly-tents are inexpensive, they also may not survive in areas where there are high winds and rain. A stronger (and more expensive) tent may be needed under these conditions. One place to get a stronger tent is to buy a used function tent from a rental company. (Get the 12 foot by 12 foot size.) You should be able to purchase one for around $125. Be sure all poles and stakes are included. (If you are unable to find one at a local rental company, contact the Secretary.) Mess (patio) tents run around $150.

        Another even more expensive alternative is to purchase a pop-up Clan tent from a tent manufacturer. These will run around $500.


        Always pack a sledgehammer for driving in stakes. A small 2 lb one is convenient, but often the larger 8 lb variety will be more useful. If you don't have a sledgehammer, although more dangerous, a hatchet will work.

        Tool box or bag

        Some people find it convenient to assemble a tool box or tool bag for their Scottish activities. (A wrecking bar is a good tool to keep in the box. It reduces the effort required to pull stakes.)

        Masking Tape, Ball of String and Rope

        Be sure to have masking tape, a ball of string and a rope with you. You never know when you will need to tie something up or tape something else together.

        Layout of Attending Tents

        If possible, send someone around the clan tent area to find out where all the clans are. This information is usually available in the program, but it is often partially incorrect.

        Safety Pins

        Safety pins are used for everything from holding your display together to attaching tartan sashes. You can never have too many. All sizes are needed.

        First Aid Kit

        Often, small injuries and headaches will occur. A first aid kit containing everything from band-aids to aspirin is a must, along with sun block and moist towelettes. Safety is always first priority.

        Nutrient Rich Beverages

        In case of heat, electrolyte rich beverages may be just what the doctor ordered. Consider packing Gatorade and Tomato Juice.


        Velcro straps can be used to hold things strapped together instead of tape. They are reusable and are not affected by the weather.

        Rubber Bands

        Along with scissors - you will regret not packing these. If you have them, you probably won't need them. But the convener in the next tent will.


        While there will be plenty of Skene Dhu's around, scissors are also valuable.

        Insect Repellent and/or Fly Paper

        Since most functions are outdoors, humans won't be the only visitors you have. Spray repellent is nice, but the insect coils can be used to protect the entire tent area. You might want to bring fly paper as an alternative. If you do, be sure to hang it out of the way, preferably out of sight.

        Bungy Cords

        These cords can be quite useful for holding down handouts on the tables under high winds conditions.

        File Boxes

        Plastic waterproof file boxes are great to organize your records and protect them from the environment. These can be found at most department stores or office supply stores.


        Some events have the Clans in areas where the ground is less than desirable. Examples include horse paddocks, asphalt parking lots and gravel parking areas. To help keep mud and dust down, or to relieve the agony of hard and uneven ground, a carpet remnant can be purchased from a local carpet shop for use as your tent's floor. Be sure to get a carpet that will stand up to the weather.

        Paper Towels, Napkins, Kleenex and Wet-wipes

        Need we say more about these items? They are particularly important if you will have kids in or around the tent.

        Extra Tartan

        If you have any extra tartan, such as shawls and scarves, bring it. The tartan you don't wear can be worn by others in the tartan parade. Make sure you label all of your tartan in some way.

        Common Sense

        Use your good sense to make safe any objects such as guide wires, poles, flag poles and display of any weapons or heavy objects, especially if they are hung above the head. Such simple precautions may prevent harm to an unsuspecting visitor.


        This site is maintained by the Clan MacLachlan Association of North America, Inc.
        This page was last updated on June 17, 2011.

        © 1996-2011 Clan MacLachlan Association of North America, Inc.