Photos: Thousands of people attend Scottish Maine Festival returns to Brunswick
Howling bagpipes, barking border collies and kilted competitors were not lacking at the 42nd Maine Highland Games in Brunswick on Saturday.
The Scottish festival, which is sponsored by the Saint Andrews Society of Maine, returned to Thomas Point Beach after taking a year off in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to officials, several thousand people attended the event which featured traditional food, sports games, dancing, pageants and more.
One sporting event included the lightweight for the distance throw, where people competed by throwing a 26-pound weight with a chain attached.
“It’s about having fun and throwing it far,” said Ken Gustavson, who has been at Scottish sporting events for about 20 years. “There really is a technique to everything. “
According to Gustavson, the game originated in early Scotland as a way for lords to determine the strength and coordination of individuals among local peasants.
The Maine Highland Games also featured around 27 Clans, which are a united tribe of people related by a similar Scottish lineage. In total, there are over 500 clans.
According to Robert Currie, the commander of the learned family of Currie, the members of the Currie clan go back to the west of Scotland.
As a clan society, he said, Currie has just over 5,000 members worldwide. At the event, the clan offered children the chance to write poetry with a quill pen and ink.
“The Highland Games are a great opportunity to reunite with people from the Clan that you have known over the years,” said Currie. “I consider it a privilege to have been chosen by my family as a whole to play this line of leadership.”
Officials from the New England Border Collie Rescue, an organization that rescues needy border collies in New England and New York City, also attended the event and offered agility demonstrations.
“We are a network of volunteers and none of our dogs go to kennels, they are all placed in foster homes,” said organization president Bea Hamm.
According to Hamm, border collies are native to the border between Scotland and whales and were bred to keep sheep. The organization currently supports around 18 border collies.
The games also featured groups of bagpipes, which compete against each other. Duncan Hurst, a piper with the Stewart Highland Pipe Band, said his group competed with six other groups on Saturday and typically participates in about five other events each year.
“I’ve been doing this for 15 years and I’m not going to stop anytime soon,” said Hurst.
Bill McKeen, who has been involved with the event for around 30 years and previously served as its chairman, said different Highland Games are being held across the country to celebrate traditional Scottish culture.
“For me, it’s history, but soon after culture. I’m very interested in any kind of culture, ”McKeen said. “The people of Brunswick, if they were interested in coming to the games, are very lucky to have him here because a lot of other New England games have gone out of business.”
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