By David Rogers. GRANDFATHER MOUNTAIN, N.C. — Some describe the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games celebrating Scottish heritage a 12-ring circus and, frankly, they would not be far off. As one event official said, “It is nonstop fun.”
If you took the population of Boone, increased it by another 50 percent, you would roughly have the number of people who descended on McRae Meadows and its surrounding property for the Highland Games. From cultural arts like textile weaving and harp-playing, to the bagpipe music and sports competitions, there literally was something going on to appeal to just about everyone.
Saturday, July 8, was the athletic centerpiece of the Games. Caber toss by professionals, women’s weight throw, and a variety of track and field events with dozens of competitors were just some of the feature: high jump, triple jump, pole vault, 440-yard dash, 100-yard dash, the mile, 880-yard dash and more.
The sheep herding demonstration morphed into a goose-herding event, just to show off how good the dogs are in responding to the same vocal calls and whistles.
Forget whatever you might have learned about Scottish heritage in the Braveheart movie. Highland dances actually have their origins as intricate war dances that ancient kings and clan chiefs used to select their best men at arms — allowing them to demonstrate their strength, stamina and agility. Moments in history have had Scottish warriors performing “sword dances” for rival royalty, which was a convenient way to have weapons easily within reach when the dancing was done. All of the dances at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, of course, were performed to the music of accomplished bagpipers.
The midday festivities began with a five-column band of bagpipers and drums — followed by a number of photo opportunities. Here are a few more bonus images: