Can you hear the bagpipes wailing in the distance? Smell the bonfires? Hear the grunts of the clansmen as they toss the caber? Aye then ye ken the Smoky Mountain Scottish Festival and Games must be right around the corner. The Games are held at the Maryville College in East Tennessee and are part of one of the oldest Scottish Festivals in the country. Of course, ye don’t have to be a true “Scot” to enjoy the games, anyone can attend and join in the fun.
Relive the History of the Games
The Highland Games have a history that runs as far back as memory and records can go. During the games, kilt-clad athletes competed against each other representing their clans and themselves in unbelievable feats of strength. But, ’twas not only the men who competed, for many a fair lass competed in the dance. Here at the Smoky Mountain Highland Games, ye’ll find not only the Scottish being represented but also the Irish.
The earliest record of the “Games” can be traced back to the year 1057 when King Malcolm Ceanmore introduced the first games to his people in an attempt to bring the clans together and improve their battle skills. By the sixteenth century, the games had become more of a friendly competition with serious rivalry between the clansmen.
Tis the Games
Tis the games that most come to see while they are enjoying the tastes of Scottish, Irish, and Celtic foods and drinks provided by the many vendors. Who can resist the site of huge muscle-bound men in kilts “tossing the caber?” The traditional caber measures 19 feet 6 inches long, weighs 175 pounds and was made from Larch in Scotland. While historically this came from the need to toss logs across chasms to create a bridge, like so many other things, it became a sport.
The caber toss is all about style and distance, even though you might not think style has much to do with it when you see that huge caber wobbling around as the “tosser” lunges forward to make his toss. But the caber toss is only one of the games. Others include; both open and Braemar stone put, 16 and 22 lb. hammer throw, 28 and 56 lb. weight for distance, the sheaf toss, and 56 lb. weight for height.
Come for the Music
Throughout the entire festival, the sounds of bagpipes, drums, and pipers can be heard floating through the air. There are competitions at all levels, including solo play and full bands. To ensure you can see the performances as well as hear them, the musicians will be playing on the softball field where there is plenty of elevated seating for all. There is even a Piping Workshop led by James McIntosh MBE where you can learn to play the pipes or new skills to improve your current level of play.
This is only a small part of all the Smoky Mountain Scottish Festival and Games has to offer. Come trace your history and find your Clan; there are numerous expert cultural heritage organizations on hand to help. For 2018 the Honored Clan is Clan Ramsay, an ancient Lowlands clan believed to have been formed in the 11th Century.
Come visit the Smoky Mountain Scottish Festival and Games in Maryville, TN to be held at Maryville College from May 19 to 20, 2018. Enjoy the games, the many vendors, the entertainment, and so much more to do. Oh, and ‘Dinna forgit ta bring ye kilt”; no man should ever visit the games without being clad in a kilt cut from his clan tartan! As they say in Scotland “We’ll be seeing ye aire!”