Highland Games schedule announced, tickets on sale now

April 4, 2011
Contact: Karen B. Eldridge, Director of Communications
865.981.8207; karen.eldridge@maryvillecollege.edu

The three-day schedule for the Smoky Mountain Highland Games at Maryville College has been announced, and tickets are available now for purchase online at the Scottish festival and games’ website, smokymountaingames.org.

The regional event, the 30th festival and games for the organizing group but the first for the East Tennessee college, is scheduled for May 20-22, with the majority of the activities occurring Sat., May 21 and Sun., May 22.

“We appreciate all the efforts in the community to help bring our 30th Games to the Maryville College campus,“ said Clifford Fitzsimmons, president of the Smoky Mountain Highland Games. “The community support, cooperation and contributions to our efforts have exceeded expectations in every way.”

Along with Maryville College, the City of Maryville and the Smoky Mountain Convention and Visitors Bureau are serving as hosts for the Games.

Fitzsimmons pointed out that many attendees to the Games may discover that they have Scottish roots.

“For those people who are new to the Smoky Mountain Highland Games, I encourage them to walk the clan tents and read the names that connect so many of us to Scotland. They will especially enjoy this event while celebrating their Scottish heritage,” he added.

The official kickoff for the Games is a gala scheduled for 6 p.m., May 20, in the William Baxter Lee III Grand Foyer of the Clayton Center for the Arts. Drinks and entertainment will begin at 5:45 p.m. A formal sit-down dinner of Scottish fare is planned, followed by a traditional haggis ceremony. Tickets must be purchased in advance, and are $45 per person.

Festivities on May 21 get underway at 8 a.m., when gates open for the games, pipers and drummers competitions and sales by merchandise and food vendors.

Most of the activities will take place in the southeast corner of the campus, in and around what the Maryville College campus community refers to as “Lloyd Beach.” Games and competitions will take place on the softball, soccer and soccer practice fields. Other locations utilized include the Proffitt Dining Room of Pearsons Hall and the Alumni Gymnasium.

Rooms in the College’s residence halls are also being rented to Games participants and vendors.

An integral part of Highland Games, numerous physical competitions among individuals and clans are planned for the weekend.

The standard “heavy athletics” events, which honor and celebrate the culture and heritage of Scotland, include the caber toss, stone put, Scottish hammer throw, sheaf toss and Maide Leisg (“Lazy Stick”).

Clans can compete in events such as the Kilted Mile, Bonniest Knees, Haggis Toss and tug-of-war contests.

Numerous piping and drumming bands, including the Knoxville Pipes and Drums, will be present for competition and mass band performances throughout the weekend. Individuals may also vie for first-place awards in piping, drumming and conducting.

Entertainment and dance tents will also be set up, and bands and other acts will perform throughout the weekend. Musical acts include Mother Grove, an upbeat rock group that incorporates the bagpipe, fiddle, penny whistle and mandolin into original and traditional songs; the Blessed Blend, an ensemble that uniquely blends Celtic and Native American music; Scottish balladeer Colin Grant-Adams; and Appalachian Celtic Punk Rockers Cutthroat Shamrock.

The Smoky Mountain Highland Games’ Ceilidh Under the Stars is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. and continue until 10:30 p.m., May 21. A ceilidh (pronounced “kay-lay”) is a traditional Gaelic social gathering that typically involves music and dancing.

At 8 p.m., a Scottish country dance performance will be held in the College’s Alumni Gymnasium.

Children and families are encouraged to attend the Games, and several activities will appeal to them, especially, according to Fitzsimmons.

“The events at Scottish Games offer entertainment for people of all ages, and there are games for the children. The people who come for the first time often say there was so much to see and do that they have to return the second day to see what they missed on the first day,” he said.

“Days Gone By,” a play area with old-fashioned-type activities will be available for children of all ages, 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., May 21-22. Children ages 6 to 14 may also compete in kid versions of the caber toss, haggis toss and the kilted sprint. Participants in the games must wear some form of a tartan.

A Scottish dog parade and talent show and a sheepdog trails demonstration by award-winning Border Collie trainer Bill Coburn of Laurens, S.C., are also on the schedule.

On May 22, a Scottish worship service is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on one of the College’s athletics fields. The service also includes a “Kirking of the Tartans,” a Scottish-American custom that involves a parade and roll call of the clans in attendance, performances of Scottish hymns and a homily of Scottish history.

The Massed Bands Presentation, Parade of Tartans and Tribute to Veterans are all scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

The Games end at 5 p.m.

The honored clan this year is Montgomery, and the clan’s chieftain, Hugh Montgomery, will be attending the Games, as will many clan members from around the country, according to Fitzsimmons.

“Hugh now lives in Franklin, Tenn., but was raised in Scotland where his father, the Chief, still lives,” he added.

Highland Games typically have one featured clan, or family, that is spotlighted throughout the weekend.

Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2016 semester is 1,198.