The fortieth edition of the New Brunswick Highland Games Festival runs this weekend in Fredericton, attracting participants and spectators from around the region and beyond.
Bagpipes welcome spectators to the grounds of Government House, where it’s expected about four thousand people will attend over the weekend, as they take in highland dancing, piping and the crowd favourite heavy events.
Festival communications director Devin Patterson says the event transports spectators to Scotland.
“All the cultural elements, the highland dance, the kilts, the sights and smells of Scotland, definitely all part of the excitement,” he said.
Participants come from all over the country. Zach smith is the lead drummer in the Dartmouth district pipe band, something he describes as a labour of love.
“It’s funny, I don’t enjoy the heat, I don’t enjoy wearing wool, I don’t enjoy sweating every weekend, but I really enjoy a pipe band,” he said.
Bill and Cheryl Kaiser are from Scranton, Pennsylvania where they play in a pipe band, but are taking in their first highland games at the tail end of a Canadian vacation.
“This is great, seeing different pipers and drummer competing, seeing the heavy weight events, we’re trying to take it all in,” she said.
For many, the highlight of the weekend are the heavy events, like hammer toss and the caber toss which are incredible feats of strength.
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Kevin Robinson is a pro competitor from Perth Andover. He first started competing in heavy events 25 years ago after seeing a friend preparing to take part.
“I was up to his house one day and he was throwing sticks and rocks and logs and I’m going ‘what are you doing, man.’ I didn’t understand and I was kind of making fun of him to be honest,” he said. “But after the day went through I’m in a vehicle, kilt in hand going to my first festival.”
The mix of activities all add up to a unique experience, becoming immersed in the Scottish culture.
“We can all be Scottish for a day,” Cheryl Kaiser said.
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