By MELANIE PLENDA
Special to the Union Leader
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FRONTPAGE

September 05. 2013 12:21AM

Top athletes are headed to Loon for Highland Games

LINCOLN — There’s nothing like hitting Loon Mountain for the fresh air, natural beauty and opportunity to throw really, really heavy things, really, really far.

But that’s just what’s on the slate for the 38th annual New Hampshire Highland Games and Festival Sept. 20-22 at Loon Mountain in Lincoln. As the largest Scottish cultural festival in the Northeast, its mission is to nurture an appreciation for the music, dance, athletics and customs of the Scottish people and the continuance of the Gaelic culture.

This year, as always, the festival will feature among other things Scottish heavy athletics, sheep dog trials, live, authentic Scottish music performances, clan village and competitions in Highland dance, piping, drumming, pipe bands, fiddle and harp.

Arguably, one of the biggest draws to the festival for both participants and spectators are the Scottish heavy athletics.

Spectators expect the very best at the New Hampshire Highland Games and Festival, drawing top athletes from the United States, Canada, Iceland, Scotland and across Europe to take part in the Scottish heavy athletic and strength competitions at Loon Mountain

Throughout the weekend, professional, master and amateur athletes compete in this invitational meet at events such as the caber toss, weight over bar, weight for distance, sheaf toss and Braemar stone toss.

The festival will also play host to the Webster Scottish Highland Games World Championships, which pit some of best athletes against each other in events such as stone for distance, the hammer throw, stone for height and the caber toss.

Athletes may also compete in the Loon stone carry. Open to any competitor, this challenge asks participants to carry stones that weigh roughly 234 and 274 pounds to see how far they can get them.

And despite sore arms, athletes along with spectators who worked up a good thirst watching all that work can wet their whistles at a new event this year: Mixology.

Laphroaig Whisky cocktails will be paired with food offerings - appetizers, entrees and desserts, officials said.

The event will be held in a new function space at the Woodstock Station Saturday evening.

But the competitions don’t stop at big logs and crazy-sized boulders. Musicians and dancers will have a chance to flex their musical muscles and tapping toes during a slew of competitions throughout the weekend which include individual piping and drumming competitions held all three days; Highland Dance competitions Saturday for all levels and Sunday for nationals and choreography; fiddle on Saturday; and harp on Sunday.

To top that off, there will be plenty of music just for the fun of it from the likes of Albannach, Brendan Carey Block, John Carmichael, Alasdair Fraser, Natalie Haas, Prydein, Red Hot Chilli Pipers, Strathspey and Reel Society of New Hampshire, The American Rogues, The Brigadoons and Charlie Zahm.

New Hampshire children 14 years old and younger are admitted free with an accompanying adult. For a full listing of ticket prices and admission as well as a full schedule of events, visit www.nhscot.org/.


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