Cabers, highland dancers and pipe bands return to Altamont this weekend for the Capital District Scottish Games.
Organized by the Schenectady Pipe Band, the games are a long-standing tradition in the area, bringing together Celtic music, highland athletics, children’s activities and lots of Scottish food.
Usually held every Labor Day weekend, in 2021 the games have been shortened to one day instead of a weekend event and this year organizers are going with the same format, packing in all the competitions and performances for Saturday.
“It worked very well. We had a great turnout last year,” said William Munro, one of the organizers.
Around 9,500 people attended the games in 2021 and organizers say they are on track to have such a large crowd on Saturday.
This year’s celebrations will mark the return of individual flute/percussion competitions.
“It’s kind of expensive for us and we weren’t sure what the crowd was going to be like. [last year]. But this year we went back to doing individual competitions and we have a person from Australia who will compete in the pipe contest, so that’s great,” said Munro.
About 20 pipe bands from across the Northeast also compete. Everyone will join in for a massive band performance at noon, after the tartan parade and opening ceremonies in the grandstand.
“The gates open at 8 and we get a huge influx of people coming in, so the traffic backs up a little bit as noon approaches. We encourage everyone to arrive early,” Munro said.
Bagpipe and athletics competitions start early, shortly after the gates open.
One of the main athletic competitions is the caber throw, where competitors throw a large conical stick so that it falls from one end to the other and lands in a straight line from where it was thrown. Sheaf tossing is another popular part of the highland games, which will include around 20 competitors this year.
Kids will also have a chance to test their throwing skills.
“At 2 o’clock we have some activities organized for them where we have kids throwing the log,” Munro said.
It won’t be the traditional telephone pole-sized cabers that the pros will throw out earlier in the day, but rather a small caber made from corrugated cardboard material.
“They have fun throwing them,” Munro said.
Throughout the day, The Fitzgeralds and The McKrells are ready to bring their version of Celtic music to the stage. The Brigadoons, a Canadian-based band, will return to the festival in what has become a four-decade tradition.
“This is our 44th year hosting the games because we missed 2020, but they’ve been here all 44 years and they’re just an amazing band,” Munro said. “They love coming here and we love having them.”
Headlining act Enter The Haggis is scheduled to play at 7 pm The Toronto-based band combines bagpipes with violins and a rock rhythm section. He is known for songs like “One Last Drink”, “Gasoline”, “Down With The Ship” and “Lancaster Gate”.
The day’s program also includes an event highlighting Scottish dog breeds, a petting zoo and bird of prey show, sheepdog demonstrations and more.
“You get a full day of entertainment,” Munro said.
Scottish Capital District Games.
WHEN: Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
WHERE: Altamont Fairgrounds
HOW MUCH: $24 for adults. Children under 12 years enter free.
MORE INFORMATION: Scotgames.com
More from The Daily Gazette:
Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts, Life and Arts