It seems like every committee at this year’s 70th Glengarry Highland Games is adding a special touch to celebrate this historic milestone. The grounds will be abuzz with people coming back to savour the years they have spent at the Games while new visitors are coming to find out what it’s all about and become more of those annual fans. One special group attending will be those who attended the first Games in 1948 and will return this year to enjoy the accomplishment of being there at the beginning and then again 70 years later. Many of these people report that they have been at the Games almost every year. For them it will be a visit to see how much things have changed, but how much they have stayed the same.
On Friday, August 4 and Saturday August 5th, the Games will be going full out to provide visitors with the best celtic festival ever. Over 260 highland dancers will attend from as far away as the Maritimes, Whitehorse and Scotland. All events report good numbers with records waiting to be broken. The Women’s heavyweights will gather lots of interest as two record holding athletes go head to head. Last week, Susie Lajoie (who throws in the Pro Women) set a new Canadian Record in the sheaf toss in Enumclaw, Washington at the Pacific Northwest Scottish Highland Games and Clan Gathering. She threw 28', which beat the record that Heather Boundy set last year in Glengarry of 27' 6". Both women are throwing on Friday in Maxville. Is there a new record in the making?
Glengarry History will be on Display
This year the Games extended an invitation to historic groups in Glengarry to join them in a celebration of Glengarry’s history. Fifteen groups will take part in a Heritage Village where they will showcase why this county boasts not only that it is Ontario’s Celtic Heartland but that it is also where Ontario began. Make sure the Heritage Village is a stop on your visit to the Games and enjoy its demonstrations, displays and presentations on the Scots contributions to Canada and Canada’s 150th. Greet your friends and neighbours as you take a trip down memory lane.
Four military regiments will be encamped near the Village sharing stories about life on the lines during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Sir John A MacDonald will welcome visitors to the Village and a variety of local historians will share stories on Glengarry’s history. A special treat will be a waulking demonstration of fulling "freshly" loomed cloth while singing traditional Gaelic songs.
The Battle of the Clans
On Friday evening at 5:30 pm on the infield as the crowd gathers for the Tattoo and Concert, the Battle of the Glengarry Clans will offer an exciting competition as hard fought as Saturday’s Highland Regiments Tug of War Challenge. Four teams will take to the field to settle who is the best team in Glengarry. North Glengarry, South Glengarry and the Sons of Glengarry welcome a new team, Glengarry Outhouses, to the field and the competition.
The North Glengarry team is organized by Dave McSauve and sponsored by The North Glengarry Restaurant. The South Glengarry team is organized by Jason MacCuaig, coached by Brian Hope and sponsored by Jack’s Pub in Williamstown. The Sons of Glengarry is organized and coached by Troy Lapierre and is sponsored by SommerGlen Farms from Williamstown and the Glengarry Outhouses is organized, coached and sponsored by Jimmy vanDeberg.
To date the South Glengarry team has been the most successful in this battle, but the challenge is definitely on this year. Make sure you are there to support your county and your team.
Rugby Takes to the Field For A New Games First and A Memorial
A new and hopefully annual event is the Nate MacRae Memorial Rugby Tournament. Nat MacRae was an enthusiastic young man who lost his battle with cancer. He was a sportsman, loving the competitions and companionship generated through sports. He loved his Celtic heritage and was lovingly called, “The Scotsman” by his teammates and friends. The preliminaries are on Friday from 1-6 pm behind the Clan Buildings with the finals on Saturday with the U18 Girls at 2:30 pm, the Women’s at 3:00 pm and the Men’s at 3:30 pm all on the infield. The format will be a box seven also called small side rugby which is played with 7 players per side making for a fast free-flowing game. Now an Olympic sport, it was first featured at the Rio Games in 2016. This event should provide some exciting play to add to a most exciting Games lineup.
Celebrate your Heritage, Come Visit the Clans
Come to the Clans and be entertained by local young musicians like the County Lads and Kilts, Riffs and Spurs, partake in several presentations including the history of Canadian and Scotch whisky, and of course discover your Scottish roots, genealogy, the history of the Clans and Scotland.
On Saturday at noon, the clan parade takes place on the infield. The clans will be sporting their tartans, kilts, banners, and flags. What an awesome sight it will be to have hundreds of Clans men and women proudly wearing their tartans as they parade in front of the thousands surrounding the field. An added feature for the 70th Games will be the four historical military regiments leading the parade along with Sir John A offering greetings to the crowds as he makes his way around the infield. The South Glengarry Pipe Band leads the parade with the Loyalist Fifes and Drums bringing up the rear.
Individuals wishing to participate in the Clan Parade should proceed to Clan Building 1 at 11:15 am.
In Clan Building 1 at 2:00, the Clan Squad will guide interested people in the Glengarry two-step. Come by and learn some easy steps so you can glide over the floor like Mac Fred Astaire. In Building 2 on Saturday 1:30 first learn more about the history of Canadian Whiskey presented by Forty Creek Whiskey Ambassador Chris Thompson. .At 2:30 try a few Gaelic Toasts and attend the Scotch Tasting for Beginners presented by the Gaelic Society of Toronto.
For Great Summer Entertainment, It’s All At the Games
The Games offers something for everyone. The Wee Bairns area will entertain the very young while other young people can try out the Junior Heavyweights and the Track and Field. There is Scottish shopping galore with haggis and everything tartan plus some of finest food vendors from near and far.
Celtic Entertainment starts Friday at 11 am with the Harp Workshop and continues with the best in bands, dancing and fiddling until the last dancer leaves on Saturday night. For the more energetic, don’t forget the Kilt Run on Saturday.
There are lots of shady spots and washrooms throughout the huge grounds. The site is fully accessible and the parking is free. All of this for a great Scots bargain of $20 per day (and children under 12 are free).
The Games loves to put on a great show and a good party but remember to travel to and from the Games safely. Keep in mind that the OPP will be on the roads all weekend so take a taxi (by the Arena) or have a designated driver.
For those who want to keep up with the Games from afar, Corus Cornwall will be onsite broadcasting updates Friday and Saturday, CFRA’s Brian Little Show will be live on Friday, and of course, the Games will be posting to our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram site regularly.
See you at the Games. Come and join us as we celebrate 70 years young.