A focus of the Highland Games in Pleasanton was the traditional sports thought of when you use the term Highland Games and the most famous of these is tossing the caber. The event took place on the finish straight of the horse racetrack. Everyone stood in the grandstand while the athletes did their best on the track. (This did mean that the barrier was in the way of most of the shots.)
The guys taking part were some big fellas. The goal is to flip the pole end over end. They get a run up going – no mean feat while balancing a large pole by one end – and then heave it in to the air. The pole is tapered and they hold the thinner end so the thicker end hits the ground and, if there is enough momentum, the thinner end will arc up and over. This is not easy to do and the guys were having a lot of trouble. I think we came in at the end of the competition so probably missed some of the earlier (and presumably easier) throws. The celebration when they made it was something in itself. I don’t think I would like to get on the wrong side of any of these guys.
The suburbs of Chicago had an interesting offering recently. A festival was held to celebrate Scottish culture (no Rob, don’t go there) and to hold Highland Games. I haven’t been to this event before and this year it had been moved to a new location which was supposed to be able to handle the amount on show better so we headed along.
It was hot and humid (not very Scottish) so not a day to hurry yourself. However, to add some authenticity, the recent heavy rains had left the field very boggy in parts. The vent was huge and I shall tell more about it in the coming days. One of the first things we went to see was the tossing of the caber! The games had already had a couple of events and more were due later in the afternoon. However, we got one fo the more famous events while we were there.
Competitors had come from all over the country. The men and the women were competing together (obviously with different cabers) and it was quite something to watch. All of these people looked like they could handle themselves in a fight! They were big people. A couple were school teachers so I suspect their pupils know how to behave.
The announcer suggested that the women had chosen too long a caber and no-one managed to get it over while we were watching. However, the men were having more luck and there were quite a few successes including some that were given perfect scores – do you know how to score this event?? A good start to the afternoon.