The weather was perfect – sunny but not too hot and the organization worked. Entry was $20 at the gate but few complained. The “Games” were Highland Dance competitions, Bag Pipe band competitions and the usual “heavy” events. In addition there were vendors selling Scottish memorabilia and there was musical entertainment. Once again the games were in Victoria Park and once again parking was at a premium. Unlike the Waterfront Festival, there were no shuttle busses to remote parking. The crowds seem to come despite the increase in entry fee so this should put the Highland Games organizers on a better footing. In 2013, they asked the Town for a loan but didn’t get it (see link below) but at the 2018 games, Mayor Brocanier was enthusiastic about the event and expects many more.
But the games this year got lucky with the weather and had the benefit of good management and generous volunteers. The Ceilidh on Friday night now also seems to be a successful event with a beer tent and entertainment. The program booklet was generally good although its map was completely unreadable. One of the ironies of the event (well, I find it ironic), is that our own band, the Cobourg Legion Pipes and Drums, does not compete and does not participate in the massed bands that you can see in the video below. Nevertheless, the event does attract some of the best bands in Ontario – from as far away as Windsor. There are also about 200 dancers – a few of them are in the video below.
The video is about 19 minutes and has a lot of bagpipe music – if that’s not your thing, turn the sound down!
More about the Cobourg Legion Pipes and Drums
Ian McFarlane has provided some background information on why the Cobourg Legion Pipes and Drums (CLP&D) does not participate in competition in these games.
The early years of the band, formed in 1965, did see it in the thick of pipe band competition, where, for years it acquitted itself well in Canada and the United States, traveling extensively and winning numerous awards and trophies. With the retirement of founding Pipe Major George Lovett came a change in band emphasis and a focus on more local performing. Now under the direction of Pipe Major Mary Ito and with the same attention to detail and work ethic, the CLP&D has become one of the best street bands in the Province as it maintains its broad connection to the community in which it has its being.
Competition bands, by their nature, must focus intently on a limited list of tunes, which they practice diligently in preparation for judgement on a world scale. This requires enormous dedication, as it requires tremendous focus, all carried forward with extensive travel to sanctioned competitions throughout the province, North America, and ultimately the broader competitive society. Community pipe bands, such as the CLP&D, focus no less intently, but more locally, supporting a wide range of causes and events that connect them to their community. We welcome happily visiting bands, as we gladly support our neighbours, all while sharing a mutual love of the music of the great highland bagpipe and its supporting drums.