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Popular Highland Games set to kick off in Canmore

“There is a lot to do. We are looking for volunteers. One of the main areas is setup and take down. We would really appreciate people signing up.”
20210905 Heavy Games 0006
Alisha Thopmson competes in the women's division hammer throw during the Scottish heavy events at the Canmore Highland Games on September 5, 2021. EVAN BUHLER RMO PHOTO

CANMORE – For the past three decades, the Canmore Highland Games has been a fixture in Canmore and one of the most popular events of the year.

While the event was cancelled in 2020, it returned in 2021 and is once again ready to celebrate all things Scottish this year.

“We cancelled in 2020, everything was cancelled,” said Sandy Bunch, Three Sisters Scottish Festival Society president. “We went ahead last year, and we had one of our bigger crowds.”

Since the games were first held in 1991, they have continued to only increase in size and attendance.

“When we first started, we had about 3,000 people come to the games,” said Bunch. “Now, between Saturday night and Sunday, there is about 6,000 to 8,000 people. It is quite a big event.”

There is a plethora of events planned for the games this year. Taste of the Highlands will run from 5 to 9 p.m., with a cash bar from 9 to 11 p.m. The event features an evening of wines, whiskies, meads, and ales from local and international brewers.

The games themselves include a sheepdog demonstration, a Celtic market, a tug of war and the always popular heavy events. The heavy events include both light and heavy Putting of the Stone competitions, various weight throws and hammer throws, and the very popular caber toss.

As the big weekend approaches, organizers and volunteers are still hard at work getting everything ready.

“Things are going along just fine at the moment,” Bunch said. “We are getting there.”

Everything kicks off for the Games at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday (Sept. 3) with a pancake breakfast. Events are planned throughout the day, with the heavy sports contest starting at 8:30 a.m. The opening ceremonies will occur at 1 p.m. at the ATCO Stage on the main field.

From 6 to 11 p.m. on Sunday, the Canmore Ceilidh will be held, with The Mudmen serving as the headliners.

The Highland Dance competition runs through the day, with over 350 dancers competing Saturday morning and afternoon. On Sunday afternoon (Sept. 4), the Pipes and Drums Competition will be held. There are 10 pipe bands coming out to compete at the games.

“We have got pipe bands coming from Saskatoon, pipe bands from Kamloops,” Bunch said. “We have people who come from across Canada and the northern United States.”

The Celtic market will feature 35 vendors, which will include a variety of vendors such as retailers, non-profits, and information booths.

An event of this magnitude does not happen without volunteers are still needed for the gates, to be ambassadors and in a variety of other roles.

“There is a lot to do. We are looking for volunteers. One of the main areas is setup and take down,” Bunch said. “We would really appreciate people signing up.”

If you are interested in signing up as a volunteers, you can visit: https://canmorehighlandgames.ca/volunteering.