Idlewild Park to host celebration of all things Scottish

·2 min read

Sep. 15—LIGONIER, Pa. — The thump of tenor drums, the wheeze of bagpipes and the swish of plaids will be heard at an annual heritage gathering.

The 63rd annual Ligonier Highland Games will be held Saturday at Idlewild and SoakZone, along U.S. Route 30 near Ligonier.

Gates will open at 8 a.m., with the last event to take place at 5:30 p.m.

The park will play host to pipe bands, musicians, crafters and athletes as the cultural, musical and athletic traditions of Scotland are celebrated.

"The intent of the games is to promote Scottish culture, celebrate the Scottish culture of this region of Pennsylvania and raise funds to support scholarships for people to peruse training in cultural traditions," said Kelly Shaffer, publicist for the games. "Over the years, we've supported people in scholarships in dance, piping and fiddling."

Popular at the games are the heavy athletic events, featuring the caber toss, Scottish hammer throw, sheaf toss and putting the stone.

There also will be piping and drumming competitions, highland dancing and Scottish country dancing and Scottish harp and fiddling workshops and competitions.

Vendors specializing in Celtic wearables, food and arts also will be showcased.

"Everything has a Celtic flair to it," Shaffer said.

There will be a children's game area, Scottish storytelling and continuous music from professional Celtic performers.

In addition, there will be between 20 to 30 clans attending the games.

"We have set up an area where the clans can set up tents, and it's really like a family reunion with an educational twist," Shaffer said. "They will bring genealogy materials and artifacts from their clans, so people will have the chance to learn about the differences between clans and their history."

She said the games attract between 4,000 to 7,000 people each year.

"It has continued to grow and gain reputation not only in our area but also across the United States," Shaffer said. "People love the tradition of it and they come year after year. You can sense it when you pull into the parking lot and you'll hear drumming and pipers, so the whole atmosphere of the day is incredible."

Shaffer said organizers hope that those attending the event will have a better understanding of Scottish history.

"I hope people appreciate that we're still promoting and preserving these traditions," she said. "This is living history and not a dead heritage. It's still happening today."

Admission is $20 for adults, $18 for seniors, $5 for children ages 13 to 17 and free for children 12 and younger.

Idlewild will be open the day of the games and an additional ticket will be required for the park's rides and attractions.

Free parking is available.

For more information, visit www.ligonierhighlandgames.org.