Celtic colours to fly again in Middleton as strongmen compete
© Heather Killen photo
The Highland Games are returning to Middleton at the end of September. Experienced and not-so-experienced competitors will take part.
The Highland Games return to Middleton this year and this time they’re bringing the haggis.
It’s been a few years since the games have been held in Middleton, according to Jamie Peppard, one of the event organizers. Athletes from around the province will be coming to Rotary Park on September 28 for a full day featuring heavy games, piping, clan tents, food, and fun.
“We decided to bring it back this year because we have a fair number of junior throwers and this gives them an opportunity to compete in a home game, “ he said. “We’ll have good quality throws going on.”
Danny Frame, a provincial and international contender, along with Sean Simms, Mike McCabe, Jim Nickerson, Danny Steele, and the two newest junior members Derek Smith and Gabe Bower will be throwing their weights around, bringing various experience levels to the caber toss.
Middleton has maintained a strong history of producing strong Highland Games contenders including former champions Peppard and Marshall Ennis, yet the popularity of the games seems to ebb and flow over the years. It was quite popular in the mid to late 1980s and again in 2005, he said.
Peppard said the first few events held here were strictly heavy games, and they eventually went on to be held in Greenwood. The last time they were held in Middleton was about four years ago according to Peppard.
This year they’ve been trying to raise the profile again, appearing in the Heart of the Valley parade and giving some opening day demonstrations at the Exhibition. This year’s games will feature the caber tosses, and weight throws, but also showcase the best of Scottish culture.
The events took on a festival atmosphere after Trish Bruce joined up and began organizing cultural add-ons like clan tents, merchants, and food vendors. Trish paints the clan barrel staves featuring the clan colours.
“It takes a fair bit of work to organize the cultural events, Trish does most of that,” he said. “I think it has a wider appeal now that we’ve added more cultural events.”
This year she is organizing an all-day ceilidh in the park while the games are on. And new this year, the events will end with a toast to the haggis. Piper Andy Kerr will lead the procession and Calum MacKenzie will address the haggis. This event will be held in Nictaux at the Middleton District Lions Club.
“A lot of the guys have never been to a Burns dinner, so we thought we’d organize one now,” Bruce said. “It’s not in time for his birthday, but we won’t be competing in January.”