Stone Mountain Highland Games

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Guid gear comes in sma’ bulk…

This proved true this last weekend at the Stone Mountain Highland Games! It really wasn’t that small, but there was so much to do and we had such a great time that I can’t wait for the next one.

It was the 45th gathering of the Clans at this beautiful venue. Over 90 clans set up booths under the tall Georgia pines to welcome Scottish friends and descendants from all over the country. Blue and white flags blew jauntily. The heady aroma of funnel cakes and fish and chips wafted on the breeze. Colorful tartans were everywhere!

The music was fantastic. There were 3 stages for bands, each dedicated to a specific genre: celtic rock (my fave), folk music, and soloists/duos. A set ran about 45 minutes and the bands alternated so it was possible to hear every group if you timed it right.

If you tired of bands, there were always pipes playing somewhere.

We loved watching the pipe and drum competitions. The bands were judged on several criteria, including the attack (when the first pipe sound is played), how well they played in unison, their technique at changing timing and tempo, how well the pipes and drums complemented each other, and how well they all stopped on the last note. Each band played a different medley ranging from quick marches through reels. So we didn’t have to listen to Scotland the Brave a thousand times…

Although it was breathtaking to hear it played by the massed pipe and drum bands play it! The opening and closing ceremonies included all 20 competing bands at once, marching onto the parade field in three sections. They looked and sounding amazing! Speaking of amazing, the Atlanta Pipe Band (a Grade 2 band, which is REALLY good) led the massed band in a rendition of Amazing Grace that brought tears to ones eyes. And if that wasn’t enough, check out the eye candy Drum Major uniforms…

We spent plenty of time with the MacMillans and Frasers (mine and hubby’s clan). They each put out lavish buffets for hungry clan members to dig into between activities. And SCOTCH! I sampled a wee dram of a couple of imports I didn’t know existed. On Sunday the MacMillans received the 2017 award for Best Clan. Whoo-hoo!

There were vendors (of course) selling T-shirts, tartan scarves, and kilts. A few vendors sold handworked items. My husband greatly admired the leather working and I liked the weaving.

And there were animals. The Georgia Falcon Association had several birds for show, including a rather disgruntled owl. Birds of prey were once used to put dinner on the table.There was also a sheepdog demonstration. Amongst other impressive maneuvers, four border collies “boxed the sheep” under whistle commands given by the shepherd. Very impressive!

And finally, there were the games themselves. On Saturday a record was set for the 42 pound weight being tossed over 21 ft 8 in! That’s vertical height, not horizontal distance. It’s incredible to watch these lads and lassies in these feats of strength.

And eccles cakes…need I say more? Delish.

But don’t take my word for it. The games will be back next year. If you’re interested in experiencing a bit of modern Scots-Irish America (Southern style, that is), you’ll want to go yourself.

Or gie it laldy! as a Scot would say :)

P.S. You never know who you’ll run into at these events! Who would’ve imagined this guy was a friend of the Scots? The kilt really adds something to the uniform, don’t you think?

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