The 50th Cobourg Highland Games

The  Cobourg Highland Games have had a bad run of weather luck in the past few years; but not  the 50th year Games. The weather on Saturday June 15th was delightfully sunny, breezy yet not overbearingly hot. And this between a rainy Friday and a supersaturated Sunday morning. Ahh, the luck of the Scottish! And Cobourg was putting on its floral ritz for the festival – with iris, lilacs and a bevy of blooms on show as one approached Victoria Park and Cobourg Beach in the heart of town. Chatting with a Cobourgian it was clear the lilacs and iris were the bloom stars of the weekend. But her own peonies, see lower right below, were in fine form too.
cob1fleurs
Flowers on display on every street approaching Victoria Park and the Highland Games for 2013

Approching the park there was a gentle breeze  and the dulcet tones of  the bagpipes and bands wafting in from Victoria Park. Thhere was a special feeling echoing the weather’s good graces. One could hear it in the the lone piper’s tune:
spcview2
Lone Piper at the entrance to Victoria Park

Everywhere there were Pipe and Drum Bands all over the park  grounds. With European Champion Boghall and Bathgate Pipe and Drum Band from Scotland in the mix, the local Pipe and Drum bands weretuning up for the noontime assembly of the massed bands at the Victoria Park Green. Crossing in that direction it was pleasing to see the Cobourg lawn Bowling club out in full.
The Bowlers on the greens were serenaded by at least half a dozen nearby Pipers and Bands
Following along the walkways, there were  crafts and flags flying in the vendors areas and the city was in the right spirits for a 50th Highland Games.

The Highland Dancers

Earlier in the week, I heard the story of how about 20 years ago the Highland Games had been staged in Victoria Park and near the beach. So in this year’s return to Victoria Park the question was where would the various events be held. Well as suspected the bandshell was the site for the Highland Dances. And with big broad maples and elms nearby the band shell provided a glorious setting for the Highland Dances:
sprcob283
Highland Dancing at the  Bandshell

But the real delight for this year’s Highland Dancing competition, was the Sailor’s Hornpipe dances in the morning:
First the girls [ and two male dancers this year] are dressed in naval whites and blues – and a woman in uniform is always a delight. But another attraction is that the Sailor’s Hornpipe dance about midway through allows the dancers to improvise some celebration steps. These individual dancing innovations are always fun to see especially among the younger dancers – what will strike their fancy.

This year, the gathering of the Highland dancers was done after the Massed Bands in the greens. Getting all the dancers to evenly space out over the field can be an adventure – especially this year with so many novice youngsters enetering the 50th anniversary Highland Games. But the Highland Gathering went on without a hitch and to the delight of a large audience. And that is an audience that had been just treated to a great show of the Massed Bands.

Pipe and Drum Bands

As noted, the 50th Highland Games had been treated to the Boghall and Bathgate Caledonia Band from Scotland giving a special Friday night concert. Then on the Saturday they entered Grade 1 level Pipes and Drums Band competition against some pretty stalwart Canadian competition:

  • Toronto Police Pipe Band
  • 78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe Band
  • Peel Regional Police Pipe Band
  • Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia Pipe Band
  • Ottawa Police Service Pipe Band

One could see and hear the bands practicing all morning and into the afternoon competitions. It added a pleasant lilt to the day. But one of the highlights of the Games is the gathering of the massed bands on the Greens next to the Lions Pavillion right at the entrance to the Cobourg Beach.
As can be seen from the slideshow above the gorgeous day and the stands made for a easy afternoon of band competitions. Unfortunately, just as is the case for the the Apple Blossom Tyme Festival in Colborne the results for the all the competitions, Pipes and Band, Highland Dancing, and Heavy Weight Events are late if ever to appear on the Highland Games website. Fortunately the Heavy Events provide their own attractions.

Heavy Weight Events

The Heavy Weight Events are perfect for the big and expansive Cobourg Beach. it is easy to cordon off and area and along the shore line there are plenty of places to sit and watch the show. And anybody who watched last year’s Summer Olympics will see some similarities. For example the the Stone throw looks a lot like the Olympic Shotput event. Ditto for the Hammer Throw – its on a chain in the Olympic event. But nothing quite matches the Caber Toss or the Hay Sheaf toss.
What was really nifty, is that between events the Heavy weight announcers invited the crowd of watchers to come try to hoist the weights themselves. At first they were reluctant. Then a Mom came over and tried the 56lb weight – and did so with ease. Soon a whole group of kids were trying to lift the heavy Weights. One small guy and a redhead gal seemed to be naturals.

Kudos to the Highland Games Organizing Committee

On a sunny June Saturday, Cobourg and its visitors were treated to a splendid Highland Games. Each of the events provided interest and fun. The Victoria Park venue was more than suitable. Spectators were treated to a fine show – and at the right price => Free for the 50th Anniversary Highland Games.