In Maxville, there are many signs the Glengarry Highland Games are about to begin.
Banners span the road at both ends of the village welcoming everyone to one of the biggest events in Eastern Ontario. On the games site, the huge tents are up, the grass is a plush green carpet, flags are flying and a crew of busy volunteers is putting the finishing touches to make the fairgrounds sparkle.
One of the highlights of this year’s Games events will be the Salute to the 150th Anniversary of the RCMP with lots of opportunities to get up close to the force that wears the famous red serge. Another for many will be cheering on Maxville’s own John Wensink as he officially opens the Games at noon hour on Saturday.
Starting Wednesday, August 3, the crowds begin to arrive as the RVs fill the camping area. On Thursday, scores of concessions will be setting up to be ready bright and early Friday morning. Thursday night will see over two hundred Scots splendid in their formal kilts and skirts gather in the Metcalfe Centre for the sold-out Tartan Ball.
Friday at the games starts early at 8 am with a full day of competitions and events. Heavy event athletes take to the infield with the Amateurs at 8:15 am, the Professional Women at 10 am, and the Masters at 1pm. Highland dancing competitions take place in the Arena also starting Friday morning with Primary, Beginner, Novice and Intermediate events followed by Restricted and Premier National competitions. For piping fans, the amateur grades one to five solo piping and drumming competitions take place on the grounds and the Piobaireachd Society Gold Medal (Canada) contests are held in downtown Maxville at the Anglican and Presbyterian churches.
In the afternoon, there is the Scottish Fiddle Youth Concert in the Arena Hall and the terrific lineup of local celtic entertainment in the Metcalfe Centre. When it’s time to stop for a meal, there won’t be a lack of vendors ringing the infield that offer foods of all kinds from traditional Scottish fare to barbeque to chicken shawarma and poutine. If it’s shopping that’s on the agenda, pretty much anything that’s Scottish can be found at the many merchants around the grounds.
Between the afternoon events and the Friday night Tattoo, the entertainment continues with the traditional tug of war at 5:30 pm between teams from North Glengarry and South Glengarry.
Saturday is a big day with the North American Pipe Band Competition™ and the professional piping and drumming competitions, the men’s professional Heavy Events and a full day of Scottish Fiddle. In Highland Dancing, champion dancers compete in the prestigious Glengarry Highland Games Open Championship.
Added to these traditional Games events, there’s the Kilt Run where kilts are mandatory for competitors and the Whisky Tasting that instructs on how to nose and taste six whiskies from traditional Scottish regions. On the infield, the Highland Regiment Tug of War takes place with six regiments challenging for the Cup. Teams include SDG Highlanders, Cameron Highlanders, Toronto Scottish, Argyll and Sutherland from Hamilton, Essex and Kent Scottish from Windsor and the Lorne Scots from Peel, Dufferin and Halton. Rugby finals in the Nate MacRae Memorial Tournament will take place on the infield at 2pm. The box seven tournament starts out with five mens’ teams from Cornwall, Montréal and Ottawa and four women’s teams from Cornwall and Brockville. The preliminary events start Saturday morning behind the Clan Buildings.
More than 35 clan societies and heritage organizations will be ready to share their history and knowledge in the clan buildings. The Clan Parade, with its impressive display of tartan, kilts, banners, and flags at 12pm on Saturday is just before the Official Ceremonies. All are welcome to join the gathered clans and take part in the Clan Parade by presenting themselves to the Clan Buildings at 11:30 AM. To see which groups will be present and learn more about the workshops and entertainment at the Clan Buildings, check out the Games website under Events/Clans.
For the young folk, there’s lots to do at the Games from the junior heavyweights and the track and field on Saturday to the fun-filled Wee Bairns area that offers games, a petting zoo and face painting both days and a magician on Saturday.
There will also be a group of people at the Games this year who will be asking visitors to answer a few questions about their Games experience. Enigma Research from Toronto is conducting an Economic Impact study for the Games so please take the time to give them your feedback. There’s also a chance to win two Patron’s passes to the 2024 Games if you take the survey.
The grounds are fully accessible. There are air-conditioned indoor spaces as well as many shady sites around the grounds for viewing and relaxing. In order to make your experience at the Games stress free, many of your purchases can be cashless. All major debit and credit cards will be accepted at the entrance gates, souvenir booth, camping and hospitality venues.
The Games has an Emergency Weather Plan in place. Any dangerous weather warnings will be broadcast on our Games PA system with instructions on how to keep safe. Remember in extreme weather a tent, RV and/or car are not good choices.
The Games welcome you to our 74th edition where all things are Scottish for two days and memories are made.
See you at the Games on August 4 and 5. Ceud Mìle Fàilte! A hundred thousand welcomes!