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August 28, 2012 > Entertainment abundant at Scottish Games

Entertainment abundant at Scottish Games

Submitted By Floyd Busby

Tossing a 22-foot pole into the air would seem to be quite the task. Make that pole about 140 pounds and it would seem almost unimaginable. Then, make that pole circle 180 degrees, hit the grounds top-side first and fall straight ahead, and, well, you've done the almost impossible! This combination of strength and finesse is the tossing of the fabled "Caber," an event that will be featured at the 147th Scottish Highland Gathering & Games in Pleasanton.

The International Highland Games Federation hosts the World Championships for the Professional Class in the Caber and Weight-For-Height events during this event at the Alameda County Fairgrounds, September 1-2. The pros will compete in seven international two-man teams, four from the United States and one each from Team Canada, Team Europe and Team Poland.

The pros will also compete in the 38th U.S. Invitational Heavy Events Championship that coincides with the world event and includes the Men's Open Amateur Class, Women's Open Class, Women's 40+ Master Class and three Men's Master Classes. A total of 75 athletes will compete, representing 14 states and six countries. All of these athletes are at the top of their respective classes and compete at Pleasanton by invitation only.

Unlike regular track and field, all of the heavy event athletes must compete in all eight categories. As an example, the pros include the 17.6 lb. Regular Stone Putt, the 26.6 lb. Braemar Stone Putt, 28 lb. Weight-For-Distance, 56 lb. Weight-For-Distance, 16 lb. Hammer, 22 lb. Hammer, 56 lb. Weight-For-Height and the Caber (Approx 22 ft. x 140 lb.). The weight of the implements differs with each class to reflect class skills; athletes are scored on each discipline. Finishing positions for each of the eight disciplines are posted with the aggregate scores to determine the overall winner.

Each day, the eight events are divided into two segments. In the morning from 8:30 a.m., to 11:30 a.m. on the Athletic Field, the two Stone Putts, Weight-For-Distance and Hammer Throws are competed by all classes. In the afternoon, from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., the Weight-For-Height and Caber are contested by all classes on the track in front of the main grandstands.

An abundance of musical styles will entertain audiences at the Games; seven stages of continuous entertainment. The musical cornucopia runs the gamut from individual troubadour with guitar singing Celtic folk songs to the driving, pulsating rhythm of Celtic rock bands, and everything in between. Both Saturday and Sunday entertainment begins at 10 a.m. and continues through the final sets that begin at 4 p.m.

Popular Celtic rock "regulars" are back - the local and internationally known Tempest, Australia's Brother, the tribal sounds of Scotland's Albannach and the popular sounds of Molly's Revenge with guest Peter Daldry. The Browne Sisters return to the fairgrounds with George Cavanaugh and an import from New Zealand, Steve McDonald. McDonald is New Zealand's top solo act and has sold over a million copies of his recordings in the U.S. Celtic ensemble Golden Bough will share the stage with one of the world's premier rock bagpipe instrumentalists, John MacLean Allan. These groups and soloists will perform in 45-minutes sets beginning on the hour.

Two stages will host Celtic Heritage performances of the Scottish Fiddlers Rally with world famous Alasdair Fraser leading a highly charged group of fiddlers. Verlene Schermer, noted Bay Area harper and singer, headlines the Celtic Harpers with harp students joining in. Celtic Heritage includes varied groups performing Scottish Country Dancing. Singer and balladeer John Kelly performs and Kirsty Fitch entertains with Gaelic singing. Stage seven is hosted by Scottish balladeer Neil O'Neill both days.

Saturday evening, immediately following the day's closing ceremonies, the Caledonian Club of San Francisco hosts a Ceilidh (a Scottish party) at the Red Lion Pub on the fairgrounds. Steve McDonald will be the host, assisted by Neil O'Neill with special guest appearances by the U.S. Marine Band San Diego and the L.A. Scots Pipe Band. This evening of music is free; a tri-tip or chicken BBQ dinner is available: $18 for adults, and $8 for children.

One day adult tickets cost $20 or $27 for a two-day ticket; children (12 - 17) cost $12; and Seniors (65+) $12. Military with active duty ID are free; ages 11 and under are free. Parking is $8.

Scottish Highland Gathering & Games
Saturday and Sunday, Sept 1-2
Saturday: 8 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Sunday: 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Alameda County Fairgrounds
4501 Pleasanton Ave., Pleasanton
Tickets: $12 - $27; parking $8

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