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Men in kilts: Highland Games are scheduled for this weekend

by Seaborn Larson
| July 16, 2013 11:12 AM

The traditional Highland Games have undergone centuries of diversification. Originally a test by King Malcolm III, of Scotland, to find his strongest and fastest man later became a competition among nations that included Scottish, Irish, British and Norwegian cultures

The Highland Games will take place in Libby for the first time on Saturday.

Sponsored by the Scottish American Athletics Association, the Kootenai Highland Gathering joins five other sanctioned locations in the American northwest to host the traditional Highland Games.

“They’re really excited about being in our area,” said committee member Angie McLaury. “Of course we have a lot Norwegian heritage here, but we also have a rich cultural heritage of Scottish and Irish.”

McLaury said six clans of the respective heritages have registered to compete thus far, including the Clan Cambell, Clan Cian, Clan Elliot, Clan Kerr, Clan Mackay and Clan Urquhart as well as the Sons of Norway. These clans, as well as many other individuals, will travel from around the region to be a part of Libby’s first Highland Games.

Although a wide range of events have become part of regional Highland Games, traditional events include the caber toss, where competitors toss a large pine pole or log from holding it in an upright position; the stone put, an event much like the Olympic shot put throw; the hammer throw, in which competitors throw a 22-pound hammer for distance; as well as many more. 

The festivities begin Friday evening with a Ceildedh (Kay-Lee), a festive dance with music provided by Dave Blackburn and the Meadow Blasters, as well as a traveled group of bagpipers from the northwest region.

“There’s nothing like Celtic bagpipe music to soak into your roots,” said Blackburn. Blackburn described the venue as one of the best in Montana, with a backdrop view of the mountains and Kootenai River. Music will be accompanied by a “Nice Legs” contest, where women will judge brave men donning kilts.  

The events begin 9 a.m. Saturday on the grounds at River Bend Restaurant.