Highland Games schedule set, tickets on sale

Mountain Highland Games at Maryville College has been announced, and tickets are available now for purchase online at the Scottish festival and games’ website, www.gsfg.org.

The regional event, the 30th festival and games for the organizing group but the first for the college, is scheduled for May 20-22, with the majority of the activities occurring Saturday, May 21, and Sunday, May 22.

“We appreciate all the efforts in the community to help bring our 30th Games to the Maryville College campus,” said Clifford Fitzsimmons, president of the Smoky Mountain Highland Games. “The community support, cooperation and contributions to our efforts have exceeded expectations in every way.”

Along with Maryville College, the City of Maryville and the Smoky Mountain Convention and Visitors Bureau are serving as hosts for the Games.

Fitzsimmons pointed out that many attendees to the Games may discover that they have Scottish roots. “For those people who are new to the Smoky Mountain Highland Games, I encourage them to walk the clan tents and read the names that connect so many of us to Scotland. They will especially enjoy this event while celebrating their Scottish heritage,” he said.

The official kickoff for the Games is a gala scheduled for 6:30 p.m., May 20, in the William Baxter Lee III Grand Foyer of the Clayton Center for the Arts. Drinks and entertainment will begin at 5 p.m. A formal sit-down dinner of Scottish fare is planned, followed by a traditional haggis ceremony. Tickets must be purchased in advance, and are $45 per person.

Festivities on May 21 get underway at 8 a.m., when gates open for the games, pipers and drummers competitions and sales by merchandise and food vendors.

An integral part of Highland Games, numerous physical competitions among individuals and clans are planned for the weekend.

The standard “heavy athletics” events, which honor and celebrate the culture and heritage of Scotland, include the caber toss, stone put, Scottish hammer throw, sheaf toss and Maide Leisg (“Lazy Stick”).

Clans can compete in events such as the Kilted Mile, Bonniest Knees, Haggis Toss and tug-of-war contests.

Numerous piping and drumming bands, including the Knoxville Pipes and Drums, will be present for competition and mass band performances throughout the weekend. Individuals may also vie for first-place awards in piping, drumming and conducting.

Entertainment and dance tents will also be set up, and bands and other acts will perform throughout the weekend. Musical acts include Mother Grove, an upbeat rock group that incorporates the bagpipe, fiddle, penny whistle and mandolin into original and traditional songs; the Blessed Blend, an ensemble that uniquely blends Celtic and Native American music; Scottish balladeer Colin Grant-Adams; and Appalachian Celtic Punk Rockers Cutthroat Shamrock.

The Smoky Mountain Highland Games’ Ceilidh Under the Stars is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. and continue until 10:30 p.m., May 21. A ceilidh (pronounced “kay-lay”) is a traditional Gaelic social gathering that typically involves music and dancing.

At 8 p.m., a Scottish country dance performance will be held in the College’s Alumni Gymnasium.

On May 22, a Scottish worship service is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on one of the college’s athletics fields. The service also includes a “Kirking of the Tartans,” a Scottish-American custom that involves a parade and roll call of the clans in attendance, performances of Scottish hymns and a homily of Scottish history.

The Massed Bands Presentation, Parade of Tartans and Tribute to Veterans are all scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

The Games end at 5 p.m.

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