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Records broken at Highland Games

by Kris Svela


Records were set on and off the field at the 67th Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games.

And while president Warren Trask is disappointed by attendance on the weekend, he is proud of the women’s competition at  the Fergus games, the first one officially sanctioned by the  Canadian Scottish Athletics Federation (CSAF), that saw four Canadian records crushed.

Susie Lajoie, Josee Morneau and Alexandra Norman-Ross set new Canadian records in the competition on Sunday. Overall, Lajoie won the championship by one-and-half  points over Morneau, while Norman-Ross won the 14 pound weight for distance at 71.2 feet and the 28 pound for height at 14.9 feet. There were eight competitors on the women’s side.

Competitor and board member Jackie Greig credited the women for their competition and record breaking performances. She is hoping the competition will return next year.

“I think it would be a pretty good chance because we do host a good show,” she said.

Organizers of the games will have to apply to the CSAF to host the women’s competition in 2013.

Greig, who has been competing for many years, didn’t know what it took to host the local games until she became a board member.

“Until I came on the board, I never  believed how much it takes to run it,” she said. “Everybody who stuck it out was smiling. It was a fantastic competition.”

In the men’s competition, two records were broken. However, Trask didn’t have the exact results from the men’s side when contacted on Monday.

Full results should be available later this week at

Trask said he expects attendance was down to about 30 percent of what the festival has had in previous years, when attendance was pegged at over 30,000.

“I think we’re going to be in financial difficulties,” he said of the festival’s budget of half a million dollars. “We didn’t have the spectators we would have liked to see and it was weather related.”

Trask said he was pleased with the way the festival was run with its contingent of over 300 volunteers.

“I would say it was a successfully-run festival, but we suffered because of the rain,” said Trask, who is in his second year as president.

The games at Fergus and Glengarry are the largest in Canada.

The weekend attracted vendors, competitors and visitors alike despite some downpours. Friday evening’s fireworks display, part of the Tattoo, went off, even though lightening and rain threatened its cancellation.

Trask said organizers were prepared with an emergency evacuation plan if the weather had turned, but fortunately it held off.

Some 40 Scottish clans set up shop at the festival, along with an estimated 900 competitors who took part in the highland dance competition.  Bands, including the Fergus Pipe Band, celebrating its 85th anniversary, took part in the Tattoo along with the 48th Highlanders and Royal Regiment of Canada, Fergus Legion, American Originals Fife and Drum Band and the Preston Scout House Alumni Band.

A special presentation marking the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 was also held.

There were events featuring local musicians and vendors at the festival included those selling Scottish armaments, clothing and food, and the heritage tent saw exhibits of weaving techniques set up by members of the Guelph Guild of Handweavers and Spinners.

Guild member Susan Sprecker of Bloomingdale spent time in the heritage tent working and talking to people interested in weaving.

“We’ll knit or put it on the loom,” she said of the display put on by the guild. “I do it to relax.”

Sprecker gets her wool from a farmer in Maryhill, but acknowledged a lot of wool comes from Grey and Bruce counties where there are bigger sheep farms. Another local supplier is Wellington Fibres.

“They do it from fleece to yarn,” she said of what is available to weavers locally.

The festival also hosted its school for heavy event competitors to hone their skills.

The school is held for two days of the event and divided in the classes that include novice, junior, women and amateurs.

Jack Jans, festival vice president who has been involved with the games for 12 years and is a master instructor said the school is of a “university class.”

“It’s hard to find anywhere to train and have the weights,” Jans said.

Matt Daciw of Kitchener has been competing since he was 16. Now, at 29, he continues to attend the instructional portion of the games, competing with other amateurs.  

“I’ve only done the Fergus training camp,” he said.

This year he has started competing at other events beside Fergus.

On Friday he managed to pull off top spot tossing the qualifying caber, which weighed about 100 lbs and was 19 feet high, over end, the lone contestant to achieve that goal.

When asked how it felt to raise, balance and toss the rain-soaked caber, he said, “It felt like being kicked in the head and stomach.”

“The thing I love about this is that everybody is cheering everyone else on,” Jans said of the camaraderie between contestants.

In the Canadian tug of war competition, the Bluewater team from the Grand Bend area won the Canadian championship and will represent Canada in the upcoming world competition.

Trask said the board will start planning next year’s festival in the near future.

Vol 45 Issue 33

August 17, 2012

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Wellington North Guide 2018-2019

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