Every October the Highland Games bring people from all over the state to participate in a fantastic exhibition of true Scottish culture in Laurinburg. Founder and chairman Bill Caudill describes the Scotland County Highland Games as, “like a day-long visit to Scotland without having to fly.” These games are particularly special because of their connection to the local history. “Being in this region, which was the largest Highland Scottish settlement in North America until well into the 19th century, there is a lot of Scottish identity and Scottish-American history in this area. This is one of very few, if any, Scottish Games that are truly held in a region that was important in the history of Scottish settlement in the USA,” Caudill explained. The event is scheduled for Oct. 1 at the John Blue Home and Historical Complex in Laurinburg.
It all begins with the opening ceremonies. “My own favorite part is the opening ceremonies. To see all the pipe bands on parade for the massed pipes and drums, the Scottish clans marching by with their banners and tartans waiving and to see the crowd assembled,” Caudill said, “As the founder and chairman of the event, it still gives me chills to see the dreams which I had — which were shared by volunteers who make the event happen — come to fruition. There’s no festival event like it in our region that has this much color and pageantry!”
In the past years, attendance has reached upwards of 5,000. It is easy to see why the event is so popular when the schedule is packed full of incredible things to do and experience. One of the most exciting displays is the athletic and artistic competitions. “Some may know of the athletic events that are traditional in the Highlands of Scotland, however for those who have not seen a burly man (and some women) try to throw what looks like a small telephone pole then, this, you gotta see. There are also several dozen Highland Dancers and solo pipers and drummers who will be competing for prizes during the day — the first thing one will hear on exiting their car will be the sound of bagpipes in the distance. Fourteen pipe bands will be competing for prizes in the afternoon’s pipe band contest,” Caudill said.
There is even a place for children to try out their skills on miniature version of the adult athletic competitions. The fairgrounds will also be packed full of Clan Societies willing to share the histories of their clans and assist others in finding their Scottish roots. There are also vendors offering everything from kilts, to Celtic Jewelry to even the classic culinary favorite - Haggis. There will also be the familiar meat pies, pizza, burgers and hotdogs. Entertainment continues at 6 p.m. with the Celtic Rock group “Seven Nations”.
The Highland Games is truly focused on the audience. The entire family can come and enjoy a whole day of music, culture and fun. The Highland Games will be held at the John Blue Historical Complex, which also offers a great glimpse into the Scottish-American heritage of the region as it features historic homes and agricultural buildings that all have ties to Scottish-American families. For more information, visit www.schgnc.org/index.html.