Kalamazoo Scottish Festival Association

History Of the Highland Games

      In Scotland, Heavy Athletics Events have been held for at least 1,000 years.  Historians believe that some of the Heavy Events originated during Druid times. Heavy Events began as tests of strength and conditioning for Scottish troops. A tree trunk would be made into a caber and tossed by the strong military men. Rocks from river beds would be heaved for distance. Lead weights would be tossed  underhand over a bar more than twice as high as the athlete. The Athlete who accumulated the most points from the contest would be the Heavy Events Champion.

    The first historical references to the Heavy Events were during the reign of King Malcolm III (1057-1093). The Ceres Games of Fife, Scotland, are considered the oldest, almost  continuous Highland Games, beginning in 1314. The English Government, during the Act of Proscription years (1746-82), however, outlawed all Highland Games, including the Ceres Games. The Act banned all Scottish culture, including the wearing of kilts and the playing of bagpipes. The Ceres Games also were not held during World War I and World War II. Even with these interruptions, the Ceres Games have been held annually for about  700 years.

      Over the centuries, the Heavy Events have evolved from military exercises into festivals for the Scottish public. With the addition of dancing, music, food and drink, the Highland Games were born. The Kalamazoo Scottish Festival is proud to be celebrating our 26th Annual Festival this year and hope you will join us in August.