LAURINBURG — As Scotland County’s biggest tourism draw, the Highland Games will bring thousands into the county and to the grounds of the John Blue House. But the event wouldn’t be where it is today without the help of volunteers.
Just about everything that is set up at the Games is done by up to 150 volunteers. The volunteers range from the 30 individuals on the Highland Games Committee to Boy Scout troops to individuals in the community to those outside of the community.
“There are so many people who do so many things behind the scenes there is no way I could thank everyone,” Chairman Bill Caudill said. “There are some who are doing things that I don’t even know about, but they’re getting it done. We have a great team helping with the event.”
Volunteers have worked throughout the week by setting up the grounds of the John Blue House with tents, electrical and everything else needed to maintain a successful event. Those volunteers will continue working throughout the weekend when the gates open. Andy Womble, logistics chairman and site coordinator, said that volunteers have been out since the hurricane, but on Thursday and Friday will be setting up about 95 10-by-10-foot tents and 15 commercial tents that have to be put up.
Womble has been volunteering since the Games began 10 years ago after being talked into it by his wife, who was Scottish, and has continued every year since then and he hopes that more people will come and volunteer.
“It helps promote Scotland County and it’s a good thing for us,” Womble said “And we could use all the help we can get.”
The Games started in Scotland County 10 years ago after the Flora MacDonald Highland Games in Red Springs was discontinued.
So 10 years ago, Caudill pitched the idea and soon his phone began ringing.
“The whole concept was volunteer-based,” Caudill said. “I was the concept man, it took a lot of people to get involved and reaching other to others. The real test will be continuing to get more people volunteering.”
However, similarly to the Flora MacDonald Highland Games, the event needs more volunteers. While organizers are always looking to grow the number of volunteers, Caudill said that they are especially looking to get younger volunteers out and on the committee. The reason being that many of the volunteers and committee members are getting older and are starting to age out so the younger crowd is wanted to help continue the event for years to come.
“You don’t have to be Scottish to help out,” Caudill said. “We have people from outside the community who come help out, there are no county lines with involvement. It’s people who want to help the event and see the heritage persevered.”
Besides helping preserve Scottish heritage, Caudill says that it’s important to continue on the event as it brings people into Laurinburg who might not have come originally and so that the greater community can see the light in the community.
“It’s been a great 10 years we never knew if it would be successful,” Caudill said. “But I think we’ve demonstrated that we’re here and here to stay but it all relies on people helping and coming out to the event.”
People from California, Canada, Florida and everywhere in between come to Laurinburg for the event, booking up hotels and bringing in tourism money but the one thing that the gate doesn’t see a lot of is members of the local community.
Caudill hopes this year more local families will come out as its a great day for families with plenty of activities for adults and children alike.
The Highland Games starts Friday with a Whiskey Tasting at the Storytelling Art Center at 3 p.m., continues Saturday with the Games opening at the grounds of the John Blue House starting at 8 a.m. and ending Sunday with a worship service at Historic Old Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church at 11 a.m.
Reach Katelin Gandee at 910-506-3171 or at [email protected]