As the Saturday evening sun glistened on the pipes and drums of 1449 pipers and drummers playing Scotland the Brave to the overflowing and enthusiastic crowd, the 2018 Glengarry Highland Games came to a close. With the last notes fading on the air, the crowd cheered not only for the bands’ breathtaking performance but also for the memory of another wonderful Games and celebration of all things Scottish.
This year’s Games was certainly a celebration of all things Scottish, but it was also a celebration of Glengarry and how as a small rural area of Ontario, everyone comes together at the Games either as competitor, performer, volunteer or spectator and for two glorious days in the middle of summer, just has a great time.
The competitions this year were fierce especially in the men’s heavyweights as defending champion Matthew Doherty from Antigonish just squeaked out first place in the Professionals beating Ottawa’s Lorne Colthart by half a point in the overall standings. In the Women’s Professionals, Perth’s Sultana Frizell took the honours over Victoria’s Susie Lajoie by two points overall.
In the coveted North American Pipe Band Championships™, the 78th Fraser Highlanders gained the most overall points in the Grade 1 events and were named the winners over the 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel) and the Toronto Police. In the Piobaireachd competition, Derek Midgley from New Jersey won both the Piobaireachd Society Gold Medal (Canada) and the Bar to the Gold Medal completing a a rare double Gold.
In the Highland Regiment Tug of War, the long-standing champs Ottawa’s Cameron Highlanders were upset by the First Toronto Scottish Regiment.
Seventy-two runners competed in the Kilt Run through the cornfields with Andrew McCormick winning in a time of 18:23 for the 5K run. Highland Dancing results are still being tabulated and will be available with other full results on the Games website.
Everyone has their own special memories of this year’s Games and certainly among them will be the Official Ceremonies on Saturday with the thunder rumbling and lightning flashing in the surrounding skies. The skies stayed sunny as Rae MacCulloch’s son, Lindsay, the 2018 President, welcomed one and all to the Games. The rain stayed away as Captain Bob Pearson, pilot of Canada’s Gimli Glider, captured the audience’s hearts with his wit and warmth about his accomplishment, his love of Glengarry and his Campbell heritage. Only with the Party seated in the grandstand and the first wave of the massed bands entering the field, did the clouds open up with the downpour. As the rain poured and then quickly moved away, the pipers and drummers never missed a beat.
Friday night’s Tattoo was another magical moment with perfect skies for an outdoor performance. Starting with the massed fiddlers and the MacCulloch dancers, Glengarry showed their great appreciation for these two groups that signal that the Games are really here. The skydivers came down with their flags and another Games’ moment was the rendition of O Canada by the Campbell singers. The crowd’s enthusiastic appreciation of The MacLeod Fiddlers showed that that young group could perform on any stage. The RCMP Pipes, Drums and Dancers thrilled the audience with their vision of pageantry and grace as they performed on the infield.
The Clan Buildings were busy all day Saturday as fans searched out their clansmen or checked to see if they could find out more about their heritage. Popular high energy band, Kilts, Ruffs and Spurs kept the music flowing for entertainment as well. Noon hour’s Clan Parade grows each year and this year was a large enthusiastic gathering of the Munros, MacLeods, MacMillans and MacDonalds to name a few clans marching around the infield with their banners proudly waving.
The entertainment venues were warm but it certainly didn’t keep the crowds from gathering to dance and listen to Glengarry’s finest. One of the highlights from Saturday night was the Ceilidh in the Metcalfe Centre where the combined bands kept the dance floor filled.
The Games Souvenir booth was selling the iconic Games t-shirts like the proverbial hot-cakes and had a steady lineup throughout the Games. That should cause a swell in the photos entered for this winter’s Games Facebook photo contest, Where’s Glengarry Scot?. Throughout the grounds, the crowds around the vendors were thick with shoppers finding their clan crests carved in stone, kilt pins and celtic broaches and the bargain kilts were flying off the racks.
The Games flew by this year leaving the haunting notes of the pipes on the air and the grass on the grounds baked dry by feet and sun. Sunday morning on the grounds, it was like there had never been 25,000 and more sharing the Games experience. Signs were down, tents were gone and there wasn’t a plastic cup or a piece of garbage to be found. Committee volunteers were out in force cleaning up their areas and the grounds crew were watering the gorgeous floral displays to keep them blooming in the heat. Like the fictitious town of Brigadoon, the 2018 Glengarry Highland Games has slipped off into the Glengarry mists until it comes out in full glory once again next year on August 2 and 3, 2019.
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See you next year at the Games! Moran Taing.