Comeback for Highland Games
Penrose Equestrian Center hosts first event in region since ‘99

       The Pikes Peak Highland Games and Celtic Festival is coming back to life after five years, and it's happening at the Penrose Equestrian Center.
       The event, scheduled from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, June 26, will feature live music, dancing, exhibits, children's games and the traditional Scottish sports known as “heavy athletics.” Many of the activities will take place simultaneously, making use of Penrose's indoor arena, outdoor stadium, warm-up building and open spaces in between.
        Sponsored by the Scottish Society of the Pikes Peak Region, the Games/Festival had been an annual area event for 17 years until 1999.
       But “it's very hard to find a site,” society spokesperson Gloria Hamilton told the Westside Pioneer, adding that “we had tried once before to get the Equestrian Center, but we couldn't afford it.”
       After the last location - the Air Force Academy in 1999 - could not be used again for bureaucratic reasons, the society let the games stop.
       Until this year when…
       “They (the Equestrian Center) said they had a free weekend and would you like it,” Hamilton said. “We said sure, how much, and we were able to strike a deal that worked out for both sides.”
       Penrose Equestrian Center Manager Bill Miller was not involved in the negotiations for the Highland Games - he just started in May - but he said this week, “We're very excited about it being here. It's put on by local people, and we have high hopes of making it annual. It has both indoor and outdoor events, and this facility lends itself to that.”
        Throughout most of the day, the athletics will take place in the outdoor Penrose Stadium, including such events as the caber (pole) toss, hammer throw, weight toss and putting the stone (similar to a shotput). Although the men and women competitors who have signed up are experienced at the events, anyone in attendance can sign up to try their hand at them, according to heavy athletics organizer Greg Bradshaw. Athletes in sports that use a lot of leg strength (such as powerlifting or rugby) will have the best chance of success, he pointed out.
       Children's games will be at the east end of the stadium, simulating the adults' efforts with fence posts, frisbees and beanbags.
       Dancing will be performed on a stage between the stadium and indoor arena from 10 a.m. till 4:30 p.m. by the Scottish Country Dancers of Colorado, St. Brendan's Irish Dancers and Pikes Peak Traditional Dancers.
        Also on separate “in-between” stages will be featured musicians Alex Beaton and Jerry Brown. Glasgow-born, Beaton has been a professional musician since the 1960s, and specializes in traditional Celtic music. Brown is a well-known local performer, performing most recently with his band at Territory Days.
       The indoor arena will contain numerous ethnic exhibits, clan displays, vendors and music between 9 a.m. and 4:30 by the Band Sailor, Mountain Road Ceili Band, Cel Ceili, Blackberry Jammers, Loretta Thompson and the Heritage Band and Rare Ould Times.
       Traditional bagpipe music will be provided during the day by the strolling Pikes Peak Highlanders Bagpipe Band.
        Displays of classic automobiles (especially Buicks, because David Buick was a Scot) are scheduled.
        A high point of the day is at noon, when the traditional opening ceremonies are held, featuring the bagpipers, the Scottish American Military Society presenting the colors, clan groups and exhibitors parading and an official greeting by Robert McGregor, chieftain of the Scottish Society of the Pikes Peak Region.
       The society is a volunteer Scottish heritage group that formed in 1979.
       Advance tickets are $2 less than at the gate; call 277-0158 for purchase locations. Prices at the gate will be $12 for ages 12 and up, $9 for ages 7 to 11 and $10 for military and ages 60 and over. Children 6 and under are admitted free.
        The Penrose Equestrian Center is on the Westside at 1045 W. Rio Grande St., accessible from either south 8th or 21st streets.

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