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63rd Highland Games launches in Grandfather Mountain this weekend

Jessica Fuller • Jul 8, 2018 at 8:19 PM

Thousands from across the country will trek to Grandfather Mountain this weekend for the 63rd year of ancient Celtic traditions. 

While the Highland Games in Linville, North Carolina Thursday through Sunday, suggests a weekend full of traditional Scottish tests of strength like caber tossing, sheaf throwing and hammer throwing, the weekend-long festival brings a tray of Scottish culture through music, food and dance in addition to the games. 

Grandfather Mountain’s games aren’t the largest games in the country — but the scores of clans that flock to the games each year give them their own claim to fame, co-manager Thomas Taylor Jr., said. Each year, he said the games expect anywhere from 80 to 100 clans to set up shop for the weekend to fraternize and recruit new members earning the games the unofficial title of “The Gathering of Clans.”

“A lot of people like to track their lineage with the availability of DNA screening, and I’d say a lot of people are looking to be a part of a family,” Taylor said. “Then people discover they have Celtic lineage, and the festival is geared to get people together. 

“Regardless of age, gender, social status or anything like that, it kind of brings everyone together.” 

Taylor is the office manager and assistant director for the Highland Games and was born and bred in the culture that surrounds the annual event that his family has been a part of for generations. 

The games begin with a torch-lighting ceremony Thursday evening, but Sunday afternoon Thomas said campers were already beginning to arrive for the games, turning Grandfather Mountain into its own little village for the weekend. 

“We live it every day,” he said. “You forget how big it is, sometimes I forget the scope of it.”

Admission to the festival for adults is $15 on Thursday, $20 on Friday, $30 on Saturday and $15 on Sunday. Children ages 5-12 are admitted for $5 a day, and children 4 and younger attend free. Celtic rock concerts will be held on Thursday and Saturday nights and are $15 per adult and $5 per child age 5-12 for each night, and neither includes admission to the games.

For more information on the games as well as a tentative festival schedule, visit www.gmhg.org or call 828-733-1333.

Email Jessica Fuller at jfuller@johnsoncitypress.com. Follow Jessica on Twitter @fullerjf91. Like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jfullerJCP.

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