My family and I enjoyed a great day out at the Highland Games & Celtic Festival at The Hermitage a few weekends ago. I knew a little about what to expect because we visited their website www.midtenngames.com before the games, but the actual event was so much more fun than we expected!
The heavy athletics are what the Games are all about. But to truly enjoy them, here a few tips to help you know what to expect.
- Visit the website and read up about the heavy athletics. The entire day is set up around the athletic events and having a little bit of knowledge going in, helps you to better understand just what a feat it is to participate in the contests!
- The caber toss is the most popular event at the Games, however, our family was more impressed with the hammer throw. To watch these men take 3 revolutions of the hammer and throw it over their backs was the most impressive thing I’ve seen in quite some time. There was a field record of over 112 feet during the 2015 games.
- The families of the athletes are very helpful in answering questions about the events. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The families are very proud of their guys and love to share their knowledge. The games host also did a great job announcing the object of each event and gave lots of information about how the event is scored.
- There are no grand stands or places to sit, so bring a blanket. They suggest you bring camp chairs, but you won’t want to lug them around (there are a couple of different fields the Games are held on) and there really isn’t a good place to set them anyway. We found ourselves sitting on the ground in between the clan tents that surrounded the gaming field.
- Be vigilant when the athletes are competing. While most athletes are quite experienced, there are also several new athletes. We saw a couple of harrowing near misses as cabers and stones were launched in the wrong direction. When they are participating, you really need to make sure that you are paying attention to what they are doing.
There really was a variety of activities at the Middle TN Highland Games. Of course, there is the Heavy Athletic competition but they also had some of the most talented musicians playing Celtic music. I’m not just talking just about the Pipe and Drum Corps either, which were amazing I might add. As you walked around the fields, there were small groups of people playing violin and guitar, and on the main stage there were bands that preformed more modern Scottish music.
Dancing and Crafts
There was also dancing, by spontaneous couples and traditional dancers. We got to see several of the young ladies rehearsing before their time on the stage.
The craft vendors were very friendly and I felt that the prices were decent. Many that plied a craft were willing to share how they made the items they were selling. Our family favorite was the lady that made the handmade brooms and walking sticks. She makes several of them while she’s there and you could watch her sew and stitch her brooms together.
Over all the day was lots of fun. Even my 14 year old son said it was “amazing” and that’s saying a lot! It was very educational (important to me), entertaining (important to the boy), and amazing feats of strength (important to the hubs). They really did have something for everyone. Plan on bringing and using your camera! There are so many vibrant colors in those tartan plaid kilts and every clan goes all out to decorate their clan tent.
The big question is… would we go again? Yes! If you want to be transported to a different place and time and get submerged into another culture, you should go too!