Dig out the kilt. Warm up the muscles for a caber toss. It's time for some games, Scottish style.
The 2012 Smoky Mountain Highland Games return to the campus of Maryville College May 18-20. It's the second year the games, now in their 31st year, have been held at the college. There's a kickoff gala May 18; the gates open to the public 8 a.m. May 19.
Most of the activities, from music to athletic competitions, are May 19 and May 20. Tickets for adults are $18 for May 19, $13 for May 20, with a $10 Saturday concert ticket. Children ages 5 to 14 get in daily for $5, with concert tickets also $5; there are also ticket rates for students ages 15 to 24. The total ticket packages and prices, as well as a schedule of games and activities, are at http://smokymountaingames.org. Tickets are available at the Blount County Chamber of Commerce in Maryville or the Clayton Center for the Arts box office at Maryville College.
Events on May 19 include pipe and drum competitions, performances of Scottish country dancing and concerts of traditional Scottish and Celtic music.
A major part of the games are the athletic competitions. Those feats of strength and skill include such Scottish contests that include the stone put, Scottish hammer throw, sheaf toss and caber toss. There are other competitions too, including tug-of-war contests and a competition to find the "bonniest knees" among kilt-wearing men.
Children's activities include youth versions of the haggis toss and caber toss as well as a sprint. Those games are for ages 6 to 14; participants must wear some form of tartan. Border collie trainer Bill Coburn will lead a sheepdog trails demonstration on May 19. The events end on May 19 with a "Ceilidh Under the Stars." A ceilidh is a traditional Gaelic gathering with music and dancing.
On May 20, an outdoors Scottish worship service is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. That will include a "Kirking of the Tartans," a Scottish-American custom that involves a parade and roll call of Scottish clans. A "parade of tartans" and massed band performance is at 1:15 p.m. May 20. There's a Scottish dog parade set for 1:45 p.m. before the games end at 3 p.m. May 20.