The highly anticipated Kingsville Highland Games made a triumphant return to Kingsville’s beautiful Lakeside Park after a 32 year hiatus this past Saturday (June 22). People gathered for this celebration of Scottish and Celtic culture which featured athletic competitions, exhibits, vendors, and live entertainment.
The sound of bagpipes throughout the park could also be heard outside the gates as attendees approached, with hundreds of people wearing kilts and tartan attire, Lakeside park took on a charming Celtic ambiance for the day.
Some of the event highlights included a Highland Dance competition, sheep herding demonstrations, pipe band and drum competitions, and the Mayor’s Haggis Hurl. In the morning Eyes On Windsor covered some unique athletic competitions known as Heavy Events. They included a Tug of War competition, shot putting (of large stones), and throwing weights connected to chains. Caber Tossing (throwing a large tree log) were also part of the Heavy Events.
A Highland Games Tug of War features two teams of eight and a coach. The coach keeps an eye on the opposing team and will direct his team to hold or pull depending on what their opponents are doing. An enthusiastic crowd gathered to cheer on the participants in Kingsville.
“The shot put is a favourite at all good Highland Games,” according to Scotland.org. “Competitors throw a large stone of around 20 – 26lbs in weight as far as they can.” The Celtic strength athletes in Kingsville demonstrated this for the crowd.
The athletes also entertained the crowd by throwing objects of different weights (some round, others square) as far as they could.
Scottish heavy events have been around since sometime around the 1000’s to 1300’s where brave strong soldiers, Highland warriors, would keep fit when they were not busy fighting wars. As people migrated out of Scotland, they began organizing Highland Games wherever they settled. In modern times the games, which have expanded to include various aspects of Scottish culture, can be found in countries all around the world.
The morning events at Lakeside Park also included the Kingsville Kilt Run and Kids Dash. Following the run an awards presentation took place in the park. Presented by Mucci Farms the run was a fundraiser with proceeds supporting the Neighbourhood Charitable Alliance, and the Kingsville Historical Park Museum. Over 300 participants ages 2 to 86 participated raising approximately $5000.
The Arts Society of Kingsville had an “Artists Village” set up under a large tent featuring the artwork of their members on exhibit and available for purchase. The Society’s newest member, Andrea Kubis, exhibited several of her acrylic paintings. She explained that she videotapes the painting process from start to finish and posts the videos on her Paint Escape Youtube Channel.
Artist Isabelle West, displayed her artwork which included watercolour paintings and jewelry. She wore colourful Tartan plaid apparel comprised of yellow, red, blue, black, and white, including a bonnet (hat), sash, and kilt. Isabelle told Eyes On Windsor, she was wearing the official Essex County Tartan.
Isabelle also created an adult colouring book featuring outlines of some of her drawings and paintings of places such as Lakeside Park and the historic Essex Train Station. The colouring book includes the Essex County Tartan, and explains it was “designed by Edythe Bakes in 1983. It is registered in Canada and the Museum of Tartans in Scotland.”
“The colours represent: Golden yellow for sunshine and golden harvests including grains, corn, soybeans, barley, oats and wheat. Green for spring fields. Red for tomatoes and other fruits such as apples. Blue for blue skies and waterway. Black for the automotive industry. White for the salt mines and fish.”
In the afternoon, the official opening ceremony took place, complete with hundreds of pipers gathering together and playing their bagpipes, with their drummer counterparts, in unison. Following the Kingsville Highland Games, an evening celebration (Cedilha) concert rocked the Lakeside Park Pavillion featuring Canada’s Celtic bagpipe rock band,The Mudmen. A tough act to follow for talented local fiddler Todd Porter, who opened for the band and performed during intermission.
Todd enjoyed being part of the Kingsville Highland Games, also performing as a wandering minstrel during the day and posted on his Facebook page,; “Met a lot of great people, gave a few fiddle lessons. Toughest part was following The Mudmen! What a great bunch of high energy, talented guys.”
Plans are being discussed to bring the Kingsville Highland Games back to Lakeside Park in 2020 and expand it into a two day event (according to an unnamed source who spoke with Eyes On Windsor during the event).