15 Sep 2014
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Tossing of the Caber? Only at the Scottish Highland Gathering and Games

The Scottish Highland Gathering and Games will be at the Alameda County Fairgrounds this Saturday and Sunday. Caber tossing, music, food and games Scottish style. Are you going?

Tossing of the Caber? Only at the Scottish Highland Gathering and Games Tossing of the Caber? Only at the Scottish Highland Gathering and Games Tossing of the Caber? Only at the Scottish Highland Gathering and Games Tossing of the Caber? Only at the Scottish Highland Gathering and Games Tossing of the Caber? Only at the Scottish Highland Gathering and Games Tossing of the Caber? Only at the Scottish Highland Gathering and Games

Submitted by: Floyd Busby, Scottish Highland Gathering & Games

Only in Pleasanton, a sight seen and heard nowhere else in the world, a U.S. military band and world renowned pipe band interacting together in marching formation and spirited musical presentations.

Only at the 147th Scottish Highland Gathering & Games on Saturday and Sunday, September 1 and 2 at the . The U.S. Marine Band San Diego and the L.A. Scots Grade I Pipe Band, together side-by-side, during the daily Massed Bands presentation that will include the 30 competing pipe bands from the U.S. and Canada. In addition, the 30 pipe bands compete throughout the day in Grade 2, 3, 4 and 5 competition, as do the U.S. Drum Major Championships.

This grand finale begins both days at 4:15 p.m. on the track in front of the main grandstands, concluding a day of world championship heavy event athletics, highland dancing, living history reenactments, continuous entertainment of traditional and Celtic Rock on six stages, a Scottish Fiddlers Rally, Celtic Harpers and Living History with Mary Queen of Scots and her traveling entourage, highland warriors and invading Vikings.

The world championship heavy event athletics include the top professionals from the U.S., Canada, Britain and Europe competing for the world title in the weight-for-height and caber. The 38th U.S. Invitational Championships include the pros, amateur men's, women's and masters classes in all eight athletic disciplines.

Do you think you may have a bit of Scottish in you. You can find out among the nearly 100 clans represented in the Gathering of the Clans, or if its the Irish in you, enjoy Irish Step Dancing in the Irish Pavilion. Birds of prey with experts handlers and their falcons, hawks, owls and other exotic birds are a popular stop as are the sheep dog trails. Speed and agility is part of the Five-A-Side Soccer tournament with eight teams from Northern California and Nevada, plus Rugby and the ancient Scottish Shinty tournaments.

For the wee ones there is the Children's Glen with games and prizes. Always an abundance of British foods such as steak pies, bangers, shepards pie, scotch eggs, haggis, pasties and Celtic rolls, and of course, ales. And, back by popular demand, Whisky Live at the Games, where, for an additional fee,  one can sample the finer single malts from Scotland and learn the finer points of the art of fine distilling from a "Master".

The gathering and games open at 8:00 a.m. both days with the heavy event athletics beginning at 8:30 a.m. All other venues begin at 10:00 a.m. Closing time is 6:30 p.m.

The games are proceeded on Friday evening with a concert at the host hotel, the Marriott San Ramon, at 8:00 p.m. ($12.00). A Ceilidh (Scottish party) is held Saturday evening at the Red Lion Pub on the fairgrounds from 6:30 to 10:00 p.m. The party if free. The BBQ dinner, not required,  is $18 for adults. The Ceilidh is hosted by New Zealand's renowned entertainer Steve McDonald and Neil O'Neill with appearances by the U.S. Marine Band and the L.A. Scots Pipe Band. Both events are open to the public.

Tossing a 22-foot pole into the air would seem to be quite the task. Make that pole about 140 pounds and it would seem almost unimaginable. Then, make that pole circle 180 degrees, hit the grounds top-side first and fall straight ahead, and, well, you've done the almost impossible!.....This combination of strength and finesse is the tossing of the fabled "Caber", an event that will be featured at the 147th Scottish Highland Gathering & Games in Pleasanton.

The International Highland Games Federation hosts the World Championships for the Professional Class in the Caber and the Weight-For-Height events during the Saturday and Sunday, September 1 and 2 Games at the Alameda County Fairgrounds.

The Pros will compete in seven international two-man teams, four from the United States and one each from Team Canada, Team Europe and Team Poland.

The pros will also compete in the 38th U.S. Invitational Heavy Events Championship that coincides with the world event and includes the Men's Open Amateur Class, Women's Open Class, Women's 40+ Master Class and three Men's Master Classes. A total of 75 athletes will compete, representing 14 states and six countries. All of these athletes are at the top of their respective classes and compete at Pleasanton by invitation only.

Last year, at the 146th Games, presented by the Caledonian Club of San Francisco, the pro Team USA-2 with North Carolina's Mike Pockoski and Californian Ryan Vierra won the world title by a single point over Team USA-3.   Pockoski and five-time World Champion Vierra return to defend their title and will have their work cut out for them with several very sharp teams anxious to take the prestigious world title, especially at Pleasanton, which is noted throughout the world as one of the premier games.

An example of the wide-spread competition in the Men's Open Amateur Class, of the 15 entries, only four are from California, with the states of Washington, Arizona, Missouri, Iowa, Virginia, Maryland, Texas and South Carolina represented.

Unlike regular track and field, all of the heavy event athletes must compete in all eight categories. As an example, the pros include the 17.6 lb. Regular Stone Putt, the 26.6 lb. Braemar Stone Putt, 28 lb. Weight-For-Distance, 56 lb. Weight-For-Distance, 16 lb. Hammer, 22 lb. Hammer, 56 lb. Weight-For-Height and the Caber (Approx 22 ft. x 140 lb.). The weight of the different implements differs with each of the classes to reflect the class skills. The athletes are scored on each discipline. Finishing positions for each of the eight disciplines are posted with the aggregate scores determining the overall winner.

Each day the eight events are divided into two segments. In the morning from 8:30 a.m., to 11:30 a.m. on the Athletic Field the two Stone Putts, Weight-For-Distance and Hammer Throws are competed by all classes. In the afternoon from 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. the Weight-For-Height and Caber are contested by all classes on the track in front of the main grandstands

PRO TEAMS: Team Canada: Matt Doherty, Antigonish, Nova Scotia & Danny Frame, Middleton, Nova Scotia. Team Europe: Hans Lolkema, Sloten, Netherlands & Craig Sinclair, Drumoak, Scotland. Team Poland: Sebastain Wenta, & Lucas Wenta, Tczew, Poland. Team USA-1: Rusty Price, Snelling, CA & Sean Betz, Omah, NE. Team USA-2: Ryan Vierra, Stgevenson, CA & Mike Pockoski, Troutman, NC. Team USA-3: Mike Zolkiewicz, Springfield, MA & Matt Vincent, Baton Rouge, LA. Team USA-4: Dan McKim, Kansas City, MO & Jon O'Neil, Aliso Viejo, CA. 

Gates open 8:00 a.m. Athletics begin 8:30 a.m. Other activities begin 10:00 a.m. Close 6:30 p.m.

OPENING CEREMONIES: (Held in front of the main grandstands beginning at 12:30 p.m. both days)

GRANDSTAND SHOW: (Held in front of the main grandstands beginning at 3:45 p.m. both days). Massed Pipe Bands (30) and U.S. Marine Band San Diego in concert. Western States Drum Major Finals, and more!

PIPE BANDS: Thirty Pipe Bands from the U.S. and Canada in competition. Individual Piper and Drummer competition. Grades 1-5.

U.S. MARINE BAND: From the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego. One of the finest in the nation!

MILITARY & PIPE BAND MARCH: U.S. Marine Band & L.A. Scots Grade 1 Pipe Band together in marching & concert during Grandstand Show both days. One of only two musical appearances in the world of a U.S. military band and a world-famous Grade 1 pipe band.

HEAVY EVENTS (ATHLETICS): IHGF World Highland Games Super Series World Team Championship - 12 professionals in six two-man teams representing the U.S., Canada, Britain & Europe. The 12 pro athletes also compete individually in the World Championship for the caber and weight-for-height. ....PLUS Men's Amateur, Women's Open, Two Men's Masters and one Women's Master divisions competing in the 38th U.S. Invitational Championships.

SCOTTISH DANCING: Western U.S. Highland Dancing Championships.

IRISH PAVILION: Back by popular demand! - Irish Step Dancing and Ceili Dancing demonstrations and more.

ENTERTAINMENT: Four stages of traditional and Celtic Rock bands, groups and individuals. Tempest,  Albannach (Scotland), Browne Sisters, Molly's Revenge, Isla St Clair, Golden Bough, Steve McDonald & Peter Daldry.

CELTIC HERITAGE: Two stages of continuous Fiddling, Harping, Singing and Scottish Country Dancing featuring the Scottish Fiddlers Rally with Alasdair Fraser & Celtic Harpers with Varlene Schermer.

LIVING HISTORY: Reenactment guilds with Mary Queen of Scots and her entourage; Highland Warriors, Roman Legions and invading Vikings. Period artisans and craftsmen.

GATHERING OF THE CLANS: Do you have a bit of Scottish blood in your veins. This is the place to research your heritage. Nearly 100 clan tents.

FOR THE YOUNGSTERS: Children's Glen with games and prizes. (One of many attractions the kids love)

BIRDS OF PREY: A crowd favorite - more than 20 exotic birds, including hawks, falcons, owls and more, with professional handlers and informative information.

SHEEP DOG TRIALS: Demonstrations in the precise herding of sheep by highly trained dogs and their handlers. Provided by the Northern California Working Sheepdog Association.

CLYDESDALE HORSE TEAM: Always a popular feature for the children.

HIGHLAND CATTLE: With long coats of hair, these magnificent "coos" are prepared for the cold Scottish winter!

SOCCER AND MORE: The quick game of Five-A-Side soccer with eight teams from California and

RUGBY & SHINTY: Local Rugby teams. See the ancient Scottish game of Shinty, played by local teams.

VENDORS: Five buildings with more than 100 vendors with wares and services from the British Isles - Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales.

FOOD & BEVERAGE: Enjoy a steak pie, fish & chips, British banger or Scotch Egg! - Ales or beer....and of course regular fairgrounds American style food.

BRITISH MOTOR CAR CAVALCADE: A number of British marque clubs display their cherished automobiles....how about a three-wheeled Morgan!

KILTED MILE: Competition for all ages, running the one-mile track for prizes and glory. Kilt required! (Saturday)

WHISKY TASTING: Sample premium single malt whiskies. Attend a Master Class seminar with a Whisky Master. (Additional cost).

FRIDAY NIGHT CONCERT: Held at the host hotel, Marriott San Ramon. The L.A. Scots Pipe Band and famous U.S. military band. Hosted by Isla St Clair, noted Scottish entertainer. (Extra cost)

SATURDAY NIGHT FREE PARTY: Following the Grandstand Show Held at the Red Lion Pub. Celtic music featuring Steve MacDonald and Neil O'Neill - Open microphone plus special guests performing - Nominal cost for Tri-Tip & Chicken BBQ - Pub drinks.

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