To many people the Glengarry Highland Games in Maxville means the sound of the pipes and the sight of the massed bands marching across the infield, but to many others the Games is the greatest opportunity to hear all of your favourite Celtic bands in one place at one time. After a long wait, everyone is ready for a real ceilidh and this year’s entertainment lineup at the Games on July 29 and 30 will be sure to please everyone.
Starting on Friday, July 29, the entertainment begins at 1 p.m. in the Metcalfe Centre showcasing the musical talents of local groups. This year’s lineup includes Stewart’s Glen, The MacCulloch Dancers, Hughie McDonell, The Ceilidh Drovers, Glengarry Girls Choir and Hadrian’s Wall.
Thousands of Games fans think the Friday night Tattoo is the high point of the Games. This two hour extravaganza presents music, dance and pageantry all staged on the infield under a summer night’s sky. To start off the Tattoo, our own Glengarry Massed Fiddlers take to the stage after a three year hiatus that will let everyone know that the Games are back and the show is about to begin. What a delight it will be to see the MacCulloch Dancers once more come onto the field and perform their world- renowned routine.
The applause will continue throughout the evening with pipe bands and military bands marching onto the grounds and Hadrian’s Wall to keep the magic flowing. The night wraps up with music and fireworks and memories that will last long after the Games are over. If you don’t have a seat in the grandstands, bring your chair and find a comfortable spot on the infield.
Beòlach from Cape Breton will provide the headliner entertainment for the Tattoo, with exciting arrangements of traditional Cape Breton, Scottish and Irish tunes for fiddle, bagpipes, piano and guitar. Their energy and the natural easy wit and banter among the musicians have delighted audiences throughout the world. Last October, they were one of three groups representing Canada at the World Expo in Dubai. Their three albums have earned nominations for East Coast Music Awards, Canadian Folk Music Awards, and Nova Scotia Music Awards, of which they took home five and a nomination for a Juno award.
After the Tattoo for those who want to celebrate the return of the Games in a livelier fashion, be sure to make it to the Tent for the Friday night dance featuring Bang on the Ear.
Wall-to-wall music on Saturday
Saturday is wall-to-wall Celtic entertainment. The Metcalfe Centre lineup in the afternoon includes Bob Burnie and Friends, The Brigadoons, and Friday night headliners, Beòlach. At the same time over in the Tent , the entertainment goes strong with Fridge Full of Empties, Bang on the Ear and Brandy N’ Port. At 6 p.m., there’s a break for everyone to surround the infield and enjoy the fabulous massed bands performance. At 7 p.m., the entertainment venues come alive again with The Two Paddys in the Metcalfe Centre while in the Tent, Fridge Full of Empties will keep the dance floor filled until the 10 p.m. closing.
Remember that once you enter the grounds, access to the music venues is included in your admission ticket, except for the Friday night dance and the Grandstand seats. The dance is $10 and Grandstand seats are $5.31. See the Games website for details at Glengarryhighlandgames.com.
Competitions will be fierce at the Games
People flock to the Glengarry Highland Games knowing it will be a fantastic celebration of all things Scottish. In fact it’s one of the largest Scottish celebrations in North America. It is also the site of serious competition where World, Canadian and Games records are fought for and set. Athletes and musicians from around the world come to the Games knowing the mark is set high and the competition will be fierce.
North America’s finest piping
Since the first Games in 1948, the Glengarry Highland Games has been synonymous with pipe bands. As the home of the North American Pipe Band Championships™, the Games is known to attract a large number of pipe bands that vie to leave the field with the title of best on the continent.
This year due to COVID-19 eliminating many band gatherings and the addition of high fuel prices, there has been an impact on the number of bands with a total of thirty pipe bands competing. However, all grades of competition from 1 to 5 will be present and pipe bands will be coming from the Maritimes, New York City and Calgary, Alberta ready to compete on Saturday. The Grade One pipe band, the 78th Fraser Highlanders with 12 North American Championships, will be there to compete against the 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel) also a North American Champion and a finalist at the World Pipe Band Championships in Scotland. A full schedule can be found at ppsbo.org.
Friday night’s Tattoo will have a fine showing of pipe bands with eleven bands in the massed bands performance. Also on Friday, there are competitions for amateur Grades 1 to 5 solo piping and drumming (except bass and tenor drums). On Saturday, all professional solo piping and drumming and tenor and bass drum contests will take place. Finally after a three year wait, the much-anticipated Saturday evening massed pipe band performance will be back starting at 6 p.m. Make sure to be there, as the pipe bands fill the infield and stage another magnificent show to close the Games.
There’s also a different kind of piping that takes place in the Anglican and United churches in downtown Maxville. The Piobaireachd Society Gold Medal (Canada) contest, one of the premier solo-piping contests in North America, will take place on Friday attracting the best pipers from Canada, the United States and abroad. In addition, there are amateur piobaireachd competitions on Friday followed by professional piobaireachd on Saturday on the main grounds. The Piobaireachd is the classical music version of piping and it’s the music that summoned the clans to battle, celebrated sweet victory and terrible losses.
World Class Heavyweight Competition
The Heavyweight competitions on Friday and Saturday are always a crowd-pleaser and this year’s full slate of athletes will provide a thrilling show of strength and stamina.
Starting Friday morning at 8 a.m., amateur heavyweight competitors from throughout Glengarry start a full day of competitions with the hammer toss, the sheaf toss and of course the caber. The women’s heavyweight event this year has attracted a great field of competitors for their Friday event. From 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., local fans will be cheering on Lisa MacDonald from Alexandria and Laura Reusser now from Alberta but originally from Martintown. They will have strong competition from the ever popular Josee Morneau of Winnipeg along with Games and Canadian Champion Susie Lajoie from Nova Scotia. Also looking to have another strong performance is the 2019 Games champ Morgan Palmer of New York State.
The Masters take to the field on Friday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. and demonstrate that they still have those talents that once put them in the Pros. Local favourites, Jason Baines from Dalkeith and Lee McKinnon from Lancaster will try their skill against past champions Kevin Fast, Warren Trask and Nova Scotia’s Danny Frame who set a Guinness record in 2018 by tossing the caber 16 times in three minutes.
Saturday, the Open Professional Heavyweight events start at 9 a.m. Contestants include previous Games champ Matthew Doherty from Antigonish, NS along with Dave and Will Barron from the USA. A new face in the lineup will be Lorne Colthart of Ottawa previously of Scotland who won many prestigious titles back home and will now try out his skills against Maxville’s finest.
There’s a competition of Intermediate Heavyweights at 8 am on Saturday open to male and female teens from ages 13 to 17. To enter they must have attended one of the local clinics or have practiced with a person who does highland games heavy events. For info on clinic dates and/or registering to compete, contact Lisa MacDonald at [email protected]
Highland Dancing is a Games favourite
Highland dancing is another competition at the Games which attracts a large number of entries from across the country. This year will once more see over 200 dancers perform their intricate steps in Pre-Premier, Restricted Premier and Premier National competitions on Friday while on Saturday, World Champions, North American, Canadian and Ontario Champions showcase their best in dancing at the
Glengarry Highland Games Open Championship.
The highland dancing competition now takes place in the Sports Arena to avoid inclement weather interrupting the competitions. Once again the John Angus Carther Trophy will be presented on Saturday to the SD&G dancer with the highest combined points.
Scottish Broadsword proves popular
A new event that was introduced to the Games in 2019, the Scottish Broadsword has attracted a lot of attention. This year’s tournament and workshop will take place on Friday in the Broadsword Tent. The instructional workshops and tournaments will be attended by fencers from as far away as Manitoba and Maryland (USA).
The event name, An Cruinneachadh, is Gaelic for “The Gathering” and is an opportunity for the broadsword, singlestick and small sword historical fencing communities of Central and Eastern Canada and the Eastern seaboard of the US to come together for a few days of training and competition. Expanding from the Single Stick Tournament of 2019, An Cruinneachadh 2022 will feature tournaments in Scottish Small Sword and Highland Single Stick (both held on Fridays starting at 10 a.m.) and Highland Broadsword (Saturday at 10am) in the Broadsword Tent (located beside the large Tent). Semi Finals and Finals will be held in Circle One at 4:30 p.m.
Another development from 2019 is the introduction of youth competition (Ages 11 to 17) in Scottish Small Sword and Highland Single Stick on Friday, July 29. A workshop will also be held on Thursday at 10 a.m.
Tug of War always gets exciting
Six highland military regiments from across Canada will invade the grounds on Saturday to take part in this year’s Highlanders Tug of War Challenge. The final pull for the Cup takes place on Saturday just before the massed bands performance.
On Friday evening, before the massed fiddlers, another Tug of War will take place. This one with teams much nearer to home, as North Glengarry takes on South Glengarry in the Battle of the Clans. To date, South Glengarry leads the tally, but every year is a new team, so all bets are off on this one.
Nate MacRae Memorial Rugby Tournament
Rugby returns to the Games this year as well. The Nate MacRae Memorial Tournament will be held on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. near the Clan Buildings with the final games taking place on the infield. The format is box seven and the divisions are U18 girls, women’s and men’s.
The tournament is in memory of Nate who lost a battle with cancer. He was a sportsman, loving the competition and companionship generated through sports. He loved his Celtic heritage and was lovingly called, “The Scotsman” by his teammates and friends.
There are so many competitions taking place over the two days of the Games that it will be hard to take them all in. Check out the Games website, glengarryhighlandgames.com, to plan your visit to the Games and when to be there to cheer on your favourite competitors.