Grandfather Mountain Highland Games Return

Grandfather Mountain Highland Games Return

4:44pm Jul 07, 2021
The caber toss event in MacRae Meadows at the base of Grandfather Mountain during the Highland Games. Image courtesy of James Shaffer.

The High Country will soon be alive with the sound of bagpipes. The celebration of the 65th annual Grandfather Mountain Highland Games begins Thursday.

In MacRae Meadows at the base of Grandfather Mountain, Celtic culture will be on full display: live music, dance, cuisine, and crafts. There will be traditional Scottish competitions all weekend long like the hammer throw and caber toss, where athletes strain to balance and flip a telephone pole-sized log — up to 150 pounds — end over end.

Thomas Taylor is general manager of the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. He says centuries ago the large beams were tossed across streams to provide temporary bridges for soldiers.

“It’s a massive piece of wood,” says Taylor. “The trick is to flip it and get it as close to twelve o’clock as you can — like straight up and down — and for it actually to turn over. The judges will score it like 11:30, 12:00 or 1:00.”

Taylor says the games officially begin Thursday night with a torchlit “raising of the clans” ceremony — more than 100 Scottish families announcing their presence, rain, or shine.

“The ceremonial, I think it’s really pretty,” says Taylor. “It’s one of the best picturesque events. When it’s foggy up there it’s actually prettier. They say if it’s raining up there then it’s more authentic Scottish weather. That’s what we’ve always said. It’s like you get your fill, cause it is, because if you’ve ever been to Scotland it is very similar to here.”

The 2021 Grandfather Mountain Highland Games runs through Sunday.

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