The Red Deer Highland Games are a little taste of home for Benjamin Arthur.
“We even scheduled a little bit of drizzle today, to make sure it was authentic,” he said of the weather Saturday during the 72nd annual games at Westerner Park.
Born in Scotland, Arthur has lived in Canada for 10 years and Red Deer for the past seven years.
“You can’t truly experience the Highland culture without experiencing all of it. Having small parts of it takes away from the full experience. You have to experience the throwing with the piping and drumming in the background. You have to experience the dancing with the pipe music being played for the dancers and you have to experience the food.”
Many of the guests attending Saturday’s event were born in the U.K., Arthur said.
“Of our guests, I think you’d find about 10 per cent of them are from England, Scotland, Ireland or Wales from birth,” he said, adding everyone was welcome, regardless of heritage.
“We can’t have these festivals without the support of our community. Having a festival for just people from the U.K. would be a very small festival …. We want people to come be a Scot for a day, it’s not Scots only,” he said.
Arthur said he’s always happy to see people come out to the annual event, which featured day-long dancing, piping and drumming events, athletic competitions such as caber tosses and hammer throws, a sheep dog demonstration, shortbread judging, tug of war and vendors.
“Cultural events like this are struggling all over the country, so it’s so important for the community come out and support these kinds of events,” said Arthur.
“There are world champion throwers, dancers, pipers and drummers. The stages here are phenomenal and we’re welcoming anyone who wants to be a part of it.”
There were nine pipe bands, 36 individual dance events, 40 individual piping and drumming events and 32 heavy event competitors throughout the day.
Sylvia Morison served as chieftain of the day, on behalf of her late husband Robert Morison.