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Highland Athletics

The Highland Games are the highlight event of our annual festival. Consisting of a series of track and field events where both men and women compete in feats of strength. Events include the hammer throw, caber toss, sheaf toss, and much more. The Kalamazoo Scottish Festival and Games is proud to have several world class highland athletes who attend annually, as well as the honor of having several world records set and broken in past years at our games. If you are interested in competing in highland athletics or being a judge please reach out to us at: kateboeve@gmail.com or fill out the form below:

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The 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  The first historical references to the Heavy Events were during the reign of King Malcolm III (1057-1093).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 British Government Government, during the Act of Proscription years (1746-82), however, outlawed all Highland Games, including the Ceres Games. The Act banned many aspects of Scottish martial culture, including the wearing of kilts by military aged males and the playing of bagpipes. They would be restored in the early 1800s, mostly due to work by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The Ceres games, along with those held at Braemar and Inverness became some of the most world renowned Highland Gatherings, and have been a staple of Scottish culture since.

 

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. 

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