A Note To Parents: We make every effort for Roxanne's blog to be a SAFE site for children. Whenever possible, activities are in pdf format or link to safe sites for children. Please feel free to use the information in these posts for homeschool studies! All rights reserved by author and nature photographer, Virginia Parker Staat.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Palmer Highland Games

Bagpiper at the Palmer Highland Games
    Liz and Walter are some of Mrs. Virginia and Mr. David's camping friends they met earlier in their trip. They decided to head up to Palmer for the Highland Games and the three of us voted and decided to tag along. This would be the Staat's first time seeing clans from Celtic countries compete for various events in skills such as strength, baking, and piping and drumming. I, however, went to a Highland Games two years ago back in North Carolina, but I was excited to see what they had in store for my second visit.

    We arrived a couple hours late because it started at eight am, when we were waking up. But luckily, most events hadn't started yet. The big, heavy men in kilts were in the field warming up with the weight for distance while the musicians with snare drums and bagpipes were tuning.

    We stopped to observe the tuning of the bagpipes until the competition of the men's weight for distance began. Basically, an 28(light hammer) or a 56 pound(heavy hammer) ball on a chain thrown from one hand, whoever throws the farthest wins. I thought that it looked funny because the wind-up to gain momentum consisted of many wacky twists and turns, but they could sure throw that thing far.

     While the men continued the weight for distance, women started the Scottish hammer. Throwing a 12 pound(light hammer) or a 16 pound(heavy hammer) ball on a stick- they competed for the place that could throw it the farthest.

Big guys at the Palmer Highland Games
     Many events went on like this but my two favorite strength events were the weight for height and the caber toss!  The weight for height is a weight(56 pounds) thrown, well, for height. At this Highland Games,you weren't allowed to use a spinning technique so the men had to stand still, throw a weight over their head, backwards, and over the bar. This event is also referred to as Weight Over the Bar, or WOB. Jody Potosky won that event reaching almost 19'6"!

   About halfway through the Highland Games, we decided we were going to get something to eat.  With many vendors to choose from, we settled on German food.  We had spatzel on a stick and schnitzel smothered in onions and cheese.  I thought it was funny that we were eating German food at the Highland Games.

Eating German food at the Scottish Games?
    I think the Caber Toss is just crazy (Mrs. Virginia thinks so too) -- especially considering how big and heavy the pole is. A caber is a little shorter than a telephone pole, and not as big around either, but just to get the idea, the athlete picks up the caber without any assistance, runs forward to gain momentum, stops, and throws. A successful throw includes the caber going end over end straight in front of the athlete. The judge decided how many points the person gets based on two things:

1. If the person flips it and,
2. The angle from how far away the caber from 12:00(straight foward) when it lands.

    Sometimes the case is that nobody can flip the caber and the judges get out a different, smaller or lighter caber, this is why there can be no world or country, but only field records, every caber is a different size.

Caber Toss
     Nearby the Tea Tent, were Celtic Dance Performances. An Irish dance academy with many girls were dancing to upbeat music and afterwards a group called the Midnight Sun Cloggers performed for us with many songs including an acapella piece. 

     The best music I heard all day though, were the bagpipes and snare drums. They had many band competitions and solos, which we unfortunately missed, but the opening of the ceremonies(before Caber Tossing and WOB)  was amazing. Every clan had their own band of pipes and percussion and then they joined together. They played Amazing Grace and Scotland the Brave before leaving us to enjoy the rest of the afternoon.


  1. Morgan,
    So glad to read that you are having an utterly amazing time! Enjoy every minute of this once in a lifetime event. We miss you and look forward to seeing you when you get back. Glad to hear that your foot is better. Our thoughts and prayers are with the three of you for a safe, fun adventure. Love always, Nana and Grandpa.

  2. Hey Morgan,
    What a great surprise experience to start off your trip! I was in Scotland eating salmon at the same time you were in Alaska at the Highland games. We are excited to continue to learn about Alaska through your writing. Soak up all the good stuff, and know that you are loved.
    XOXO Mom