LAURINBURG — As residents of Scotland County continue to get back to their normal lives after Hurricane Florence, the Scotland County Highland Games hopes to help.
The Highland Games is celebrating its 10th year, opening on Friday, Oct. 5, and running through Sunday, Oct. 7. For Bill Caudill, the director of Scottish Heritage at St. Andrews University and chairman for the Games, to continue on with the event is a testament to how strong Scotland County is.
“For the 10th year, we’re surviving,” Caudill said. “The biggest thing is that the Games are going on. The decision was made very carefully so that we wouldn’t heed any recovery efforts — but as we go back to normal, continuing is helping everything get back to normal.”
The grounds on which the Games are held — the North Carolina Rural Heritage Center — suffered some damage during the storm, but are being cleaned up and repaired for the Games. Recently a group from Carver Middle School came and helped clean up from the storm.
“We’re very lucky, it could have been a lot worse,” said Lee Gaunt, chairman of the Scotland County Historic Properties Commission. “Where the sawmill and train tracks are were flooded and we had some trees fall on the stage and train station — as well as other trees down, but those have all been cleaned up.”
While all of the events are currently still scheduled to go on, there could be some changes before the Games on Saturday. But Caudill said there will definitely be some returning favorites.
Some of which include a guest bagpiper from Scotland who will be performing a recital. The performance was originally scheduled to be held at 8 p.m. at the St. Andrews University Morris Morgan Theater, but had been moved to Laurinburg Presbyterian Church on West Church Street as St. Andrews was damaged due to flooding and has not yet begun operations.
The Pipe Band Competition will be more front and center this year on the main stage and set up to be more like a concert, and the Scottish Harp Contest will be returning this year. Caudill said the harp contest was a big favorite at last year’s Games, but it’s something else that is always a crowd favorite.
“The athletics are a big favorite of the Games,” Caudill said. “The toss is really big — we actually set a world record here three years ago for it …. The kid’s events are always popular as well, we have mini-versions of what the adult athletes are doing for the kids to try out.”
On Friday evening the annual Whisky Seminar and Gathering will be held at 3 p.m. at the Storytelling Arts Center at 131 S. Main St. This is the seventh year of the tasting and is offering “Auld Friends with a twist.” The whiskeys will come from familiar distilleries but are offering different ones from “flagship” issues.
This year’s whiskeys include: Glenmorangie Nectar D’Or, 12-year, from the Highlands region, Balvenie Caribbean Cask, 14-year, from the Speyside region, Tomatin Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky, 12-year, from the Highlands region, Laphroaig Triple Wood Cask Matured from the Islay region and Balcones 1 Texas Single Malt Whisky from Waco, Texas.
In all Caudill is hoping that crowds will still come out to the event despite everything that has happened throughout the state due to the storm. Last year the event broke records by having 6,000 people in attendance and Caudill hopes that the record can be broken again — or at least come close to last year’s attendance.
“This is the 10th year and I just want the event to go smoothly, Caudill said. “I’d love to see a good gate attendance and to draw more local people out because typically we have a larger crowd from out of town than from in town. I think it would be a good event because after the storm families might be looking to go out and do something fun together and it’s a great event to do that.”
Tickets can be purchased in advance and are $12 for adults and $3 for children between 5 and 12. At the gate tickets for adults will be $15 and children 5 to 12 will be $5. Children under 5 are free. Advanced tickets can be purchased at the Laurinburg-Scotland County Area Chamber of Commerce at 605 Atkinson St., at Bob’s Jewel Shop at 110 West Church Street or online www.games-tickets.com.
There will also be a $2 military discount for active duty military and spouse.
Reach Katelin Gandee at 910-506-3171 or at [email protected]