Each year Clan Carmichael USA is present at various Scottish Festival and Highland Games events as a Clan representative, as a sponsor, and as a participant. Click the link below to see a list of Scottish Festival and Games events around the US, where you might find a Clan Carmichael tent and a warm welcome. In addition to clan tents, these family oriented festivals typically feature Scottish music, dancing, food, dogs, vendors, and the Highland Games themselves: traditional sporting events with ancient roots.
Highland Games and Ceilidhs
The origins of the very diverse Scottish Heavy Athletic events have been lost in the shadows of time but almost certainly date back to the very early Celtic peoples. Whenever tribes or clans gathered to barter or sell their goods or at festival times, informal contests of strength, agility and endurance between the men were also held.
Being farmers as well as warriors, these athletic contests were based on similar activities utilizing the items at hand. Clan chiefs would use these contests to select the best men for his men at arms and couriers. In ancient times, standing armies in the Celtic Nations were very rare, causing the defense of the country to fall upon warriors supplied by clans or tribes. To this end, King Malcolm III Canmore held the first organized highland games at Braemar in 1057.
During the 1800’s, Sir Walter Scott’s novels sparked a revival of interest in things Scottish. New Highland Games were organized, with their emphasis shifted towards a purely sporting activity. In order to compete in these traditional events, every athlete is required to wear a kilt (except for novice first-time competitors).
The following are some of the modern day competition events that you might see at any of the many Scottish Highland Games around the United States. These competitions require great strength, agility and endurance of the athletes competing for honors and prizes.
Caber toss – Flipping a 15 to 20 foot tree trunk weighing about 100 lbs. end over end. (Above)
Sheaf toss – Tossing a 15 or 20 lb. bale of straw for height over a crossbar with a pitchfork.
Stone put – Shot-putting a smooth 17 lb. stone for distance.
Weight Throw – Slinging a 28, 42, or 56 lb. weight with a chain handle for distance or height.
Hammer throw – Whirling a 16 or 22 lb. weight with a flexible wooden or PVC handle, and releasing it backwards for distance. (Right)
If you've never attended a Highland Game, you can expect a festival-like atmosphere. Clans with local membership often set up tents for members to rest and shoot the breeze in. Vendors sell Scottish and American food, Celtic goods, clan products, and a predictable amount of cheeky t-shirts.
Other activities and competitions often include musical performances and competitions, Highland dancing (including the mesmerizing sword dance), sheep- and duck-herding, children's activities, historical reenactment booths, and sometimes Sunday worship services.
All are welcome at the Highland Games, even non-Scots! Please come, and bring your friends, family, and relations of ill-repute with you to join in on the fun.