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Scottish Highland Games Comes Back to Silver Bay – Bay Days

The boss asked if anyone would be interest­ed in doing a story about the Scottish Highland Games event coming soon to a Silver Bay – Bay Days near you. When she’s provided a lead to the group, I feel like I should leave it sit there for a bit. I am the rookie, after all, and I want to give the rest of the crew a chance to respond. This one, I couldn’t help but jump on it. Who wouldn’t want to know more about these ath­letes and the games they compete in?

The Highland Games may have originated in Ireland all the way back in 2000 BC, accord­ing to Scotland.org. When the Scottish crossed the water in the fourth and fifth century, they brought the competition with them. The games require strength. There is a lot of heavy lifting and heavy throwing, and there is also a lot of skill necessary to compete in the events that are still held to this day.

Traditionally, the games have served as an un­official reunion as family members would travel for long distances to take part or spectate. They would enjoy music, dancing, drinking, and eat­ing….

The Silver Bay – Bay Days will feature mu­sic, dancing, drinking, and eating, and….Scot­tish Highland Games! The event will take place on Saturday July 8th from 9 AM – 4:30 PM. It’s not the first time the games have been contested during the Bay Days Festival, and Brian Hare, Silver Bay native and host of this year’s compe­tition, is excited to have brought it back.

Brian got into Scottish Highland Games in a roundabout way. He did not compete in track and field when in high school, but when he saw the throwing events in college, back in 2000, he thought “that looks neat.” Three years later he became the national record holder and nation­al champion in the NCCAA collegiate hammer throw. His coach connected him with a strong­man group that showed their strength by pulling and lifting things like cars and firetrucks. The members of the strongman group had ties to highland athletes and Brian was drawn in as it felt more like the track and field competitions he was accustomed to.

In his first meet, Brian was bumped from nov­ice to super amateur level. He was hooked, but unfortunately there weren’t a lot of competitions being held in the area. Undeterred, he began to host meets (he’s put on approximately fifty since 2008) and started traveling around the country to get more experience. In 2011, he was invited to Iceland’s first international competition. He’s gone on to compete in several professional level events.

Through his success, he has been able to build a great network of athletes. “There’s a fellow­ship aspect to it,” Brian said. Many travel from miles away to attend practices and train togeth­er. About twenty competitors will partake in this weekend’s event. Of those, five to seven wom­en are expected to attend, including a Braemar Stone world record holder.

“Minnesota, in the past, has one of the stron­gest women’s athlete groups in the nation,” Bri­an said. One of which includes Brian’s wife Jes­sica, who is a former University of Minnesota Gopher. Brian admitted to me that it’s a bit frus­trating how good she is. She can take time off, come back, and crush the competition. Jessica will be at the event and will be showing off her skills as a demonstration in several of the events.

The biggest draw to the Scottish Highland Games, and the event with which most peo­ple are acquainted, is the caber throw. A caber is kind of like a telephone pole. It’s fifteen to twenty-two feet long and weighs one hundred to one hundred fifty pounds. The caber needs to be picked up, ran with, and then flipped. The suc­cess of the throw is based on accuracy and how close the flipped caber is relative to 12 o’clock, or 180 degrees, from the thrower. Other events to be contested follow the traditional order of events and will includes the Stones of Strength, Heavy Weight for Distance, Scottish Hammers, and Sheaf Toss for Height. If time permits, some spectators may get a chance to participate in the Keg for Height competition.

“It’s fun to see some people do what looks to be like impossible tasks, throwing telephone poles and such,” Brian said. “Kids get enam­ored with us throwing things as heavy as they are. It is a family friendly event.”

The Scottish Highland Games will be held at the corner of Outer Drive and Davis Drive during the Saturday Bay Day’s celebration. Just follow the kilts!

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