Scottish Highland Games coming Saturday

Beware of falling cabers

The ancient lore of Scotland says the highland games began with a foot race.

As the story goes, King Malcolm Canmore, concerned with the speed at which he was receiving documents and news at his highland retreat, decided to hold a foot race.

Competitors from throughout the kingdom gathered in the rocky hill country for a long distance race that took them to the top of Creag Choinnich.

The winner, whose name has been lost to the ages, received a sword, gold and the prestigious title of the King's Messenger.

Over the ensuing years, the games evolved to take on tests of strength and battle skills. As the Scottish people spread across the world, they took the games with them.

It took almost a thousand years, but they made to Camp Verde.

What began with just a handful of competitors in 2004 has now grown to a one of four sanctioned competitions in the state featuring around 50 competitors.

The gates open this Saturday, March 25, at 10 a.m. at the downtown Community Center. The games will begin promptly thereafter.

The events are no longer feats of speed or endurance. They are brute strength.

Competitors throw stones, hammers and cabers of different weight for both height and distance.

In case you don't know what a caber is, as is the case with most of us who's only contact with Scottish games is golf, it's that huge pole that gets tossed around and is so often the defining competition for the games.

Along with enjoying the games at this year's event there will be plenty else to do.

There will be bands (two), whiskey tasting (two, also), bag pipes, Celtic harps, belly and sword dancers, clan tents, a beer hall and a Scottish wedding.

World-renowned Celtic harpist Laurie Riley will entertain along with the Celtic folk band from Chino Valley, Wild Thyme, and the Knockabouts, a Scottish pub band.

There will also be plenty of Scottish food, re-enactors and the ubiquitous clan tents.

There will be plenty for the kids to do also. Not only will they enjoy the games, the Northern Arizona Celtic Heritage society will sponsor a number of kids programs including an archaeological dig and Scottish heritage programs.

The events last until 6 p.m. with a party following at the Salt Mine Cellars.

For further information contact Joe Perez at Camp Verde Parks and Recreation (928) 567-0535 ext. 132.

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