With scheduled summer 2020 Highland Games across the country being cancelled due to COVID-19, it came as little surprise that the plug was pulled on the Glengarry Highland Games in Maxville, as well.
On April 22, the official word came down from Games president Eric Metcalfe, and the Glengarry Highland Games Organizing Committee: “What a wonderful world it would be if we could all be together and celebrate the 2020 Glengarry Highland Games on July 31st and August 1st. However, in light of the current public health crisis and with the deepest concern for all those who might be affected, we will not be presenting the 73rd edition of the Games this summer.”
First held in 1948, the Games have taken place in Maxville each year since, regardless of “sweltering heat and pouring rain and other difficult conditions.” The committee notes that the “unprecedented cancellation reflects the gravity of the world’s situation right now.”
“As upsetting as cancelling this year’s Glengarry Highland Games is…it is very much the right thing to do. I also want to assure you that all the directors and committees will be working hard to produce a spectacular 2021 Games. We look forward to welcoming you back on July 30 and 31, 2021. Please keep checking out our website for updates.”Eric Metcalfe, Games president
There is no doubt that the thousands of attendees, participants, and competitors who would otherwise be in Maxville this summer are as disappointed as those who had to make the difficult call to cancel.
Ron Graham, who competes in the masters division of the Scottish heavyweights, said he is “very disappointed” about the cancellation of the Maxville Games, adding, “they had to … [and I] understand why they did.”
The Apple Hil resident describes the Glengarry Highland Games as one of the biggest, with “people coming from Scotland, the United States, and all over Canada.” He notes that Montreal’s games, which traditionally follow the event in Maxville, has previously been cancelled too.
“All the athletes probably put on 20 – 30 lb from staying at home isolating.”Ron Graham
One of the competitors in the open professional class is Jason Baines, who hails from Dalkeith. He told me, “Every single games has been cancelled, including my opener in South Carolina scheduled for April 4.” The athletes also lost the World Masters Championships, slated to be held in Ireland.
“All in all, it is disappointing seeing as I had been preparing for Worlds since late December,” he added. “The flipside is we will have an entire season to get healthy, improve technique, and cut more cabers.”
Another large Highland games festival usually held each summer in Ontario is the Fergus Scottish Festival, which would have celebrated its 75th anniversary this year. Scheduled for August 7-9, its cancellation was also announced this month.
As a result of the cancellation of various games, the Canadian Scottish Athletic Federation also nixed the Canadian Amateur Championships, which were slated to be part of the Campbell River Salmonfest Logger Sports Competitions and Highland Gathering, and the Canadian Open Championships, scheduled for the Montreal games.
As Baines puts it, “Right now we are crossing fingers that we can throw in September, in Calgary or Quebec City,” where Highland Games competitions are still on the schedule.