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Saskatoon Celtic festival to feature Highland Games

Celtic refers to the cultures and languages of Ireland and Scotland, including Wales, Cornwall, the Island of Man, and Brittany.

SASKATOON — The city’s Scottish community is bringing back the Saskatoon Celtic Festival where they will again showcase their culture through music, dances, food, and the traditional Highland Games. The festival is set on Sept. 17, Sunday, from noon to 5 p.m. at Crossmount, less than 20 minutes south of the city. 

Jayna Munson, a Saskatoon Celtic Festival organizing committee member, told SASKTODAY the event was held every September long weekend from 2016 to 2019 in different locations in the city. Still, back then, they called it the Highland Games. They renamed it the Saskatoon Celtic Festival after a three-year hiatus, including the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The name change broadens the community opportunities to involve a broader spectrum of entertainment. We will have Irish dancing, Highland dancing, Scottish pipe bands, and Celtic folk bands performing at our event. The focus of the Saskatoon Highland Games was the Heavy Events, so there will be many more types of performances this year,” said Munson. 

“We started discussing the idea in April and have been planning it ever since. The Celtic community is vast, and we've had lots of support from different groups contributing to organizing the event. This event will be a great recruitment opportunity for our youth programs — pipe band, and Highland and Irish dances.” 

Celtic refers to the cultures and languages of Ireland and Scotland, where both are part of the so-called Celtic nations that included Wales, Cornwall, the Island of Man, and Brittany, according to the online encyclopedia Brittanica. 

Groups like the 96th Highlanders Pipe & Drums, Saskatoon’s youth pipe band, and the Highland and Irish dance organizations are among those supporting this year’s Saskatoon Celtic Festival. Crossmount has floated the idea of holding the festival on their grounds for years, so organizers expect an exciting and fun-filled event this Saturday. 

Karl Hren, who is organizing the Highland Games, said the competition is like the World’s Strongest Man where athletes participate in various events that test their limits and strength, like the caber toss, shot put, stone put, weight throw, and the hammer throw where those competing use special boots with spikes at the outsole tip to prevent being lifted off the ground. 

“This is designed traditionally and modern to test a person's physical abilities. The biggest difference is that our events involve throwing instead of lifting. The games consist of nine total challenges but at the event in Saskatoon, we will only compete in five to seven challenges depending on time limitations,” said Hren. 

The hammer throw has a metal ball at the end of a pole or handle where participants use the handle to swing the hammer around their head and throw it as far as they can. The weight of the hammer and the speed of swinging it above your head can sometimes lift you a few inches off the ground. That is why special boots are used to prevent it added Hren. 

Ten Saskatchewan athletes have so far signed up for the Highland Games, mostly adult men, including those over 40 (Masters). There are also the women and kids divisions.


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