Detroit, MI

The Annual Highland Games in Michigan

Heather Raulerson

Yep, that is right, in Michigan! The Annual Highland Games run by the St. Andrew’s Society of Detroit are the oldest Highland Games in North America starting in 1849. Held every year on the first weekend of August at Greenmead Historical Park in Livonia. This year the games will be on August 6th and 7th. There are Scottish competitions in Highland Dancing, Tug O’ War, Heavy Athletics, and Piping and Drumming. You can also purchase all you can of Scottish food, Celtic jewelry, Scottish kilts, and many other crafts and festival food. There are also numerous clans represented here if you want to do a little genealogy search. Plus, fantastic Scottish musicians and live entertainment are throughout the park. Here is a quick look at an enjoyable August weekend in Detroit.

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Scottish bandHeather Raulerson

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Vendor booths at the Annual Highland GamesHeather Raulerson

Walking into Greenmead, you get a Renaissance Festival vibe, which is not surprising with all the people dressed up in either kilts or Renaissance garb. There is plenty to look at in the booths. I happened to pick up a gorgeous HeatherGems heart necklace. I’m rather partial to Heather 🙂 Actually, this jewelry from the stems of Heather is a common purple flower in Scotland. 

Highland Dance

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Highland DancersHeather Raulerson

The dance competition is the first thing you see and hear when you enter the Highland Games. The music being played by the man with the bag pipes behind the stage is energetic and lively. There are numerous age brackets and different styles of dance, including the Highland Fling, Sword Dance, and the Seann Triubhas. You can get easily distracted by all the amazing footwork and agility these young dancers show while performing. 

Cabor Toss

Each man has three tries to lift the tree trunk, cabor, up in the air and have it rotate 180 degrees facing the opposite direction. This was so entertaining to watch as each tried over and over again to lift the cabor, which is over 100lbs, and throw it to rotate. Once they get it picked up, they have to run with it then completely stop, then throw it. Judged on the accuracy, they need to hit exactly a perfect 12 o’clock throw. These guys come from all over the United States to participate in this competition. What an incredible group of athletes!

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Cabor Toss ParticipantHeather Raulerson

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Cabor Toss ParticipantHeather Raulerson

Tug O’ War

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Tug of WarHeather Raulerson

Part of Olympic traditions, the Tug O’ War is one of the oldest athletic games ever. This particular competition pit Marines, firemen, and Sheriff’s departments up against each other. There were two sets of games, one for the women and one for the men. This year the Dark Angels, Detroit’s professional football team won for the women. The men it was a battle between the Livonia Fire Department and the St. Andrew’s Society Highlanders. Guess who won?

Pipes and Drums

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Scottish Bag Pipe BandHeather Raulerson

My favorite part of Scotland is the music. You cannot be at a Scottish festival or Highland Games without hearing bagpipes somewhere. Love this music! Almost makes me want to get up and dance!

The Annual Highland Games is an excellent way to celebrate your Scottish heritage or just come and celebrate someone else’s. Mark your calendar for this year’s festival the first weekend in August! You don’t want to miss it!

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Freelance travel writer and photographer who loves sharing her adventures from around the world. It is never too late to pursue your dream!

Rochester Hills, MI
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