Since the 11th century in Northern Scotland, clansmen have gathered together to compete in events that would prove who was the strongest and the fastest in the land. The strongest were chosen as the King’s personal body guards and the fastest became his couriers.
Today, they don’t compete for a King, but men – and women – still gather and compete just like their ancestors. That tradition continues Aug. 7-9 at the Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games.
The heavy events remain one of the festival’s hallmark events, drawing participants from around the world. And it draws big crowds, too: where else can you see elite, professional athletes who can toss a 22-pound hammer over 110 feet or flip a 26-foot long wooden pole end over end?
The competitive events, spread over three days, are steeped in tradition and date back centuries.
During the English occupation of Scotland, men were forbidden to bear or train with arms. The Scots created the precursor to the modern Highland games, training for war using wooden cabers as big as telephone poles, heavy hammers, and shot-put stones the size of bowling balls.
Friday, Aug. 7, beginning at 8:30 am: Scottish Heavy Events School competition;
Saturday, Aug. 8, beginning at 8:30 am: professional men’s events; and,
Sunday, Aug. 9, beginning 8:30 am: master’s (40-plus), amateur, and women’s events.