Saskatoon Highland Games 2015

96th Highlanders Pipes and Drums

Flags waving in the slight breeze of a 30C day

Saturday, September 12 dawned bright and clear for the inaugural Saskatoon Highland Games at Diefenbaker Park and Clan MacAulay Canada wasn’t about to miss it! My sincere congratulations to the organizers for bringing a highland games to Saskatoon.

Centre stage (or to be more precise, centre park) were the Scottish Heavy Events. Among the guest competitors were Jason Johnston, a Canadian highland games champion, Sean Langford, who was also very entertaining as emcee and Curtis Derocher in his first year competing professionally. As we’ve witnessed at other games, the camaraderie amongst the competitors is high. It’s so great to see them cheering each other on.

Joining me for the games was Terry of Clan Johnstone and Gail of Clan Mortimer. We were in time to see some of the competitors engaged in heaving the Braemar Stone. Definitely not an activity in which I would excel. Then on to watch the weight overbar, an event I absolutely love.

A future highland dancer?

A future highland dancer?

The HIghland Dancers

The HIghland Dancers

Keeping in mind that this is the first highland games in Saskatoon there were no highland dance or pipe band competitions, but we were fortunate to be able to watch some highland dance demonstrations and hear the pipes, which always puts a smile on my face.

We visited the Vikings who had a couple of tents set up to give people an idea of how the Vikings lived, along with their cooking pots and, of course, swords!

Here’s a lesson for me. We visited the one lone clan tent, Clan Fergusson, who were there promoting membership in their clan. When I mentioned that I didn’t realize they were having clan tents, she said “I called and they said sure!”. So the lesson learned is that I should have phoned and asked the question. I won’t make that mistake again! It would have been so easy since I have most of our clan tent in my basement.

The Sheaf (not sheep) Toss

The Sheaf (not sheep) Toss

Back to the heavy games. There was an event I hadn’t seen before. The sheaf toss. A bundle of straw wrapped in burlap is heaved over a bar that keeps increasing in height. As Sean mentioned, it’s much easier to heave a sheaf than a sheep, and it’s a lot less messy! Very entertaining.

There was only one food vendor and unfortunately no Scotch pies or haggis. Okay, to be honest, I wouldn’t have eaten the haggis anyway, but I sure would have enjoyed a Scotch pie smothered in HP sauce. On the bright side, the beer tent was operated by Prairie Sun Brewery and Lucky Bastard Distillers. I enjoyed Prairie Sun’s dark and then their Crazy Farm Ale. Both Prairie Sun and Lucky Bastard are local to Saskatoon so it was great to see their involvement with the games.

There were a couple of vendors and we enjoyed our stop at Clans, Celts and Clover. They even had a MacAulay clan badge! There was a nice selection of items and on the way out we stopped to stock up. Picked up an Irn-Bru, some shortbread cookies and licorice. Good to know there’s a place in Saskatoon that stocks Irn-Bru, not that I drink it very often, but it’s sometimes handy, well, you know, if you’re thirsty some morning.

We watched some more of the heavy games, including the distance weight throws and the competitors practicing the caber toss. We weren’t able to stay for the caber toss, the arm wrestling or to hear the bands that would be playing (perhaps they could play mid-afternoon?), but all in all, it was a great day out.

Did I mention that it was hot? It was a balmy 30C, not a cloud in the sky and barely a breeze. It was one of those perfect September days that farmers harvesting love and people revel in, because we all know what’s coming in the months ahead.

Until next time!