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Paula Roberts competing at the 2021 Greater Moncton Highland Games. Image: Submitted/Jenna Morton

Moncton’s Highland Games celebrate Scottish and Celtic culture

By Regis Phillips Jun 10, 2024 | 6:02 AM

Greater Moncton will be celebrating Scottish and Celtic culture over the coming days.

The 18th annual Greater Moncton Highland Games and Scottish Festival returns this week.

Event Manager Jenna Morton says more than 250 participants will be taking part in the games.

“Our competitors travel from across the Maritimes, so we have a lot of people who come from Nova Scotia, from P.E.I., and from around the province. It’s not that Moncton’s Scottish community is that large, we just put on a really large show,” says Morton.

The history of the highland games can possibly be traced back to the Scottish Middle Ages when, in 1040 A.D., King Malcolm III summoned men to a race in order to find the fastest runner in Scotland to be his royal messenger.

As time progressed, strength, jumping, running, throwing and riding competitions were introduced as a means of selecting the most able men for soldiers and couriers.

Morton says other demonstrations and displays with local horse and wagon teams providing free rides around the grounds.

Sheepdogs will show their skill at herding and a skilled shearer will show how the wool is removed from the animal. There will also be blacksmiths, archers, fly fishers, and more.

“We really hope the community at large will come out to support these young people, as well as the veteran competitors that will put on a fantastic show for everyone,” Morton says.

“This might be a celebration based in Scottish traditions, but it’s truly a community event that can appeal to everyone, at any age.”

The Highland Games mark another milestone for the Hub City by hosting the Canadian Scottish Athletic Federation Junoir Championship.

Bryan MacLean, the games’ athletic director, says he doesn’t know of any other Highland Games that have put forward a field of both men’s and women’s junior athletes.

“The growth in the sport is phenomenal to see. Having had the World Masters here in 2022 certainly helped showcase the power of women in this sport, as well as having so many strong athlete role models on the East Coast. It’s a natural progression and a great honour to host this event,” says MacLean.

The festival kicks off Tuesday evening with opening ceremonies at Moncton’s Victoria Park.

There will be many free activities happening throughout the week leading up to the main events at the Hal Betts Sportsplex on Saturday.

Medals for the 2024 Greater Moncton Highland Games. Image: Submitted/Jenna Morton
Archery at the 2022 Greater Moncton Highland Games. Image: Submitted/Jenna Morton