The 73rd annual Central New York Scottish Games and Celtic Festival will bring culture and festivities to Long Branch Park, in Liverpool, on Saturday, Aug. 9.
“I would encourage a first-time visitor to see everything at the festival,” said Bill Monette, athletics director of the festival. “The festival really tries to capture the Scottish culture and heritage. And visitors can hear pipe bands and watch Scottish dancing and athletic games.”
Visitors of Scottish descent should visit the clan and genealogy tent to meet others from the same heritage.
Bagpipes, ancient instruments created in Egypt and adopted by Scottish and Irish people, will play for a whole day, according to Jack Heins, a volunteer at the festival.
“My favorite part is the massed bagpipe bands,” Heins said. “At noon, all pipers and drummers will get together and play the same song. About 700 pipers and 10 to 20 bands will be there. It’s really cool and fun to watch.”
In addition to the all-day bagpipers, the Glengarry Bhoys, a band from Ontario, Canada, and the Flyin’ Column, an Irish band from Central New York, will put on a show.
“People like them,” Heins said. “They will get pipes in the mix and they kind of rock it up.”
Monette suggested that visitors watch the caber toss, a traditional Scottish game. The premise is simple: A player throws a 120-pound caber — a pole about 20 feet tall — from the “6 o’clock” position. The goal is that the caber must land in the “12 o’clock” position, directly in a line. The result depends on how accurately the player throws the caber.
“It is very interesting,” Monette said. “Sometimes the caber wins, and players have to quit because it might be slippery. It is really complicated to hold and throw a caber, and players need to invest so much time and efforts in it.”
According to Monette, the caber toss is open to novices as long as they are physically qualified. Volunteers from the athletics committee will teach them a quick course about how to do the caber toss. The caber for first-time players weighs 80 pounds.
Visitors can also participate in the sheaf toss, in which a player throws a bag containing straw, 16 to 20 pounds, over a horizontal bar. The bar is raised until there is only one person left.
“Visitors can watch stone-throw for professional players,” Monette said. “The stone weighs 18 pounds, and we have used it for 30 years. This game is very similar to the shotput. The further you throw, the better.”
Children can participate in a few friendly competitions, including three-legged races, treasure hunts and small-scale caber throws.
Heins said the food is also a great draw. Haggis, Irish cuisine and a vendor from Scotland will be there.
For information, visit www.cnyscottishgames.org