This last week of August would normally be a hectic one in the small hamlet of Maxville, with bagpipes, campers, and thousands of visitors descending on the community for the Glengarry Highland Games.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers of the Games were forced to cancel the 2020 edition, scheduled for July 31 and August 1. This would have been the 73rd edition of the Glengarry Highland Games, which were first held in 1948.
However, as the saying goes… the show must go on. In this case, it goes on virtually.
In a media release from Dona Cruickshank, the Games’ director of advertising and a past president, it is noted, “In its 73-year history, a Glengarry Highland Games has never been cancelled until this year. It seems strange not to be preparing for the Games, not only for the Games directors, but for everyone in Glengarry who counts on the Games to be the gathering spot of the summer for family and friends near and far.”
“This week, things are a lot quieter in the Counties and certainly Maxville won’t be receiving the thousands of visitors who start arriving Wednesday and fill the streets and fairgrounds for the days of the Games.
There is a big void for everyone with what to do this weekend that can match the excitement and camaraderie of the Games. At the Games, we have come up with a few novel ways to keep the Games alive by using our social media to post virtual Games happenings.
Nothing can replace the real thing, but we hope everyone will gather in COVID-19 safe groups and carry on with Games festivities using some of the neat stuff found on our website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube sites.”Glengarry Highland Games committee media release
If you are looking for Games merchandise, such as a T-shirt to don so you can get into the spirit, items are on sale, until Wednesday evening, at the administration building. Amongst the products available is a special 2020 shirt. Sales take place from 6 to 9 p.m., and visitors are reminded to wear a mask. Debit or credit purchases only.
On the Games Facebook page this week, you can participate in trivia and bingo challenges. Word has it that there will also be photos posted from past Games golf tournaments which “have raised funds for many local organizations over the years. What can be more fun that wearing a kilt that swirls as you whack the mighty white ball!”
Something to look forward to on Thursday, with a 6 p.m. scheduled release on Facebook, is “a very entertaining video with many of our Games directors tossing the token. You’ll see a lot of familiar faces and great attempts to look like pros as they toss one of the Games famous beer tokens. No tokens or directors were harmed in this video.”
Also set for Thursday is the posting of nostalgic photos from past Tartan Balls. “For this kick-off to Games weekend attendees gather in their finest Scottish attire for an evening of dinner and dance and, of course, the haggis.”
On Friday, at 4 p.m., the Virtual Edition of the Glengarry Highland Games, a 90-minute show, will be made available to the public. “Many of our Games heavyweights, Highland dancers, fiddlers, and Celtic bands have joined together giving their time and talent to create a mini-Games for your entertainment. Taped live over the past weekend, this collection of Glengarry talent will bring back the many special sights and sounds that make up every Games. It is our hope that you will find a moment in the video that brings the Games to life for you.”
Planned for release on Saturday are several short videos highlighting Games favourite moments from recent years.
Looking to experience the sounds of the Glengarry Highland Games? The organizing committee is releasing playlists to Spotify and Apple Music. You will be able to choose either “the playlist with rousing party songs or the one with traditional Celtic tunes.”
Virtual Massed Highland Fling
Last Sunday, some 230 (and counting) Highland dancers joined together via an online conferencing platform for a Massed Highland Fling. Dancers from countries including Australia, Switzerland, Ireland, Scotland, the USA, and Canada danced for 84 seconds to the piping of Glen Sinclair. According to the Games announcement, “The World Adult Champion, Marielle Lesperance, from PEI, joined the dance, [along with] three generations of dancers from Maxville, [and] past Games director Lois McLeod, her daughter Heather and granddaughter Layla.”
This performance will be posted publicly on Friday, July 31.
“We can’t bring you the real thing, but we hope you will enjoy revisiting past Games and viewing a few special events to fill the hours of Games weekend.”Glengarry Highland Games committee media release
10 Ways to Celebrate the Games
The Glengarry Highland Games has also published a 10-step guide to enjoying the festivities this year, virtually. You can view/download/print the document here (updated).