Phoenix, AZ

Get Your Kilt On, It’s Time for the Scottish Games

Suzy Jacobson Cherry
Highland Games are a longtime tradition in the Scottish diaspora. This photo shows Piper A. Macphee in Sydney, Australia, 1935Photo byState Library of New South Wales

The 58th Annual Phoenix Scottish Games, the flagship event of the Caledonian Society of Arizona – also known as the “Highland Games” -- will be held on March 3, 4, and 5 at Chandler Regional Park.

The event will begin on Friday, March 3 at 7 pm with Twilight Tattoo. This military tattoo tradition features an international cast exceeding 100 performers who will treat you to a dazzling display of drill, pageantry, and music.

Highland Games is a celebration of Scottish heritage which combines aspects of both sport and culture. The “games” part consists of women and men competing in the traditional Scottish “heavy athletics” events such as throwing various weights, stones, and the caber for distance, height or accuracy. The caber is a roughly trimmed tree trunk which is tossed by holding the caber upright and running forward before tossing so it lands some distance away.

There will be many other athletic events held throughout the Games, including:

  • Weight Over Bar, in which the objective is to toss a weight up and over a cross bar.
  • Weight Toss for Distance, in which a ring or "D" shaped handle is attached to the weight by a chain for an overall length of 18 inches, and the weight is then thrown one-handed from behind a foot barrier called a trig. A nine-foot run-up is allowed.
  • Hammer Throw, in which a round metal hammerhead with a 50-inch cane or PVC pipe handle is thrown. In Scotland, the original hammer was the same hammer used by men mining granite from quarries. In America, initially it was the heavy, long-handled blacksmith's hammer.
  • The Braemar Stone Put, in which a stone is tossed. This event comes from a common practice for early Highland Chieftains who had a large stone outside their gatepost. They would then challenge visiting clan warriors to strength and endurance tests using that stone.
  • Sheaf Toss, in which a burlap bag stuffed with straw, mulch, or rope is tossed over a cross bar using a pitchfork.
  • The sheaf is a burlap bag stuffed with rope, straw, or mulch. It is tossed over a cross bar with a pitch fork

On Saturday, March 4, there will be an arm-wrestling competition, held in conjunction with the Arizona Armfighters. Kilts are encouraged. Weight classes for the competition can be viewed online. You can register for the arm-wresting competition online.

Also on Saturday, an official MAS Wresting (Stick-Pulling) tournament, which you can register for online. There will be demonstrations of this competition for everyone on Sunday, March 5.

Celtic musicians and performers will be playing on stage, Pipe and Drum bands will entertain and compete, as well as accompany Highland Dancers. The dancers will both perform and compete as well. All the participating pipe bands come together for an opening parade, closing, and to "Call the Clans".

The entertainment for the weekend includes Craic in the Stone, MarineSandpiper, Jason Cartmell's Rockstrocity, Noble McCoy, Stoneybank, and Christopher Yates. Scottish Culture is celebrated with Clan displays, genealogy & educational exhibits and Celtic food and merchandise sales, including whisky, beer, and more.

Come and see the Clydesdales, a British car show, and find information about the Scottish clans. Interested in seeing if your clan will be represented this year? Check out the listing on the website. You’ll also find a children’s area, where your "bairns" can take part in kid-sized athletics competitions and a scavenger hunt. They will also learn about Scottish history from Mary, Queen of Scots.

Costs for the event vary depending upon what you wish to see. You can find all pricing and purchase tickets online.

  • What: Scotland in the Desert
  • Where: Chandler Regional Park
  • When: March 3, 4, & 5
  • Purchase Tickets

Comments / 0

Published by

Living, working, studying, raising kids, and writing in Mesa since 1991. M.Div., Interspiritual Abbess. Yoga practitioner. Basic hula hooper. Veteran. Writer. Artist. Published in newspapers, magazines, broadsides, anthologies, and online journals. Writes an eclectic array of stories for Medium, spirituality and recipes at HubPages, and books in various genre. Writing about spirituality, growing older, mental health, books, food, and living life in Mesa for Newsbreak.

Mesa, AZ

More from Suzy Jacobson Cherry

Comments / 0