Dunedin Highland Games, gathering bring piping, hoisting, dancing Saturday

City of Dunedin Pipe Band member Jamie Everett, 30, plays the bagpipes 
at the Dunedin Military Tattoo, a musical massing, as he has for 18 years.

TERRI BRYCE REEVES | Times

City of Dunedin Pipe Band member Jamie Everett, 30, plays the bagpipes at the Dunedin Military Tattoo, a musical massing, as he has for 18 years.

DUNEDIN

She's 81, 5 feet tall and assigned the task of keeping the Scottish clans in line Saturday. So Dee Stultz says she plans to rule with "sugar and honey" rather than a mighty sword.

"It's a good thing I know them all," chuckled Stultz, a Largo resident and former Highland dancer who teaches line dancing at the Largo Recreation Center and at the Scottish American Society.

The benevolent chief of the day is presiding over the 43rd annual Dunedin Highland Games and Spring Clan Gathering, a day of piping, drumming and dance competitions; clan partying and storytelling; and music by the Seven Nations Celtic rock group.

But the highlight of the games will be the testosterone-driven, heavy-lifting competitions, where beefy athletes from as far away as New York compete in seven events.

One of the favorites is the caber toss, where a large piece of timber, similar to a telephone pole, is flipped end over end. If not done correctly, it can break a collarbone.

Another is the sheaf toss, where a bag of straw is flung over a goal — but some have been stabbed with a pitchfork along the way.

Kevin Youngberg of Clearwater has competed in various Highland games since 1994. He remembered a wardrobe malfunction one time when competing in Scotland.

"Normally we wear something under our kilts during a competition," he said. "During a throw, an athlete fell, his kilt went up and he had a very immodest moment."

Youngberg, now 52, was a world champion in the master's division in 2001. He still participates in about 20 Highland Games every year. "It keeps me in touch with my Scots-Irish heritage and keeps me fit," he said.

And where does one practice hurling Scottish hammers, stones and iron weights?

A Clearwater cemetery, Youngberg said.

About a dozen bands will do battle in the piping and drumming competitions. That includes the City of Dunedin Pipe Band as well as those from Dunedin's high school and middle school. The Highland Games were implemented in 1966 to support the three Scottish bands.

Celtic dancers will compete with cultural favorites such as the Sword Dance, the Highland Fling and the Sean Triubhas, a traditional dance that symbolizes Scots kicking off their detested trousers, when kilts were banned by the English after a rebellion in 1745.

There will be plenty of vendors selling food, beer, kilts, jewelry and such.

"It will be like a three-ring circus," said Sandy Keith, president of the Highland Games and Festival Committee, "with something going on all the time."

fast facts

If you go

The 43rd annual Dunedin Highland Games and Spring Clan Gathering features athletic games and piping, drumming and dancing competitions.

Where: Highlander Park, 1920

Pinehurst Road, Dunedin

When: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday

Admission: $10 adults; free for children 12 and under. No pets, please.

Information: (727) 733-6240 or dunedinhighlandgames.com

Dunedin Highland Games, gathering bring piping, hoisting, dancing Saturday 04/02/09 [Last modified: Thursday, April 2, 2009 6:54pm]

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