For the 56th consecutive year, people will be donning their kilts and tartans next weekend as the Caledonian Society of Phoenix holds the Scottish Games at Steele Indian School Park.
Held 9 a.m.-5 p.m. March 7-8, the games and side events are dedicated to “all things Scottish,” according to Darryl Toupkin, a member of the Phoenix Scottish Pipe Band since 1964 who helped start the Phoenix Scottish Games since 1965.
“We were encouraged by an old piper by the name of Jock Sneddon,” Toupkin explained. “Jock used to visit here in the winter from Nevada to get away from the cold. He took on the training of our pipers and also encouraged competition as a way to improve the quality of the band – sound advice, times have not changed in this manner.”
The Phoenix Scottish Games are produced by the Caledonian Society of Arizona, the largest Celtic organization in the state, to promote Scottish culture through art, education and athletics.
Funds raised at the event support scholarships to aspiring and professional Highland athletes, musicians and dancers, and/or other individuals or organizations whose mission, project or program promote Scottish heritage.
Toupkin said the two-day event essentially offers five categories of fun activities.
Of course, there are the games, which all are steeped in centuries-old traditions. They include Caber Toss, Sheaf Toss, Stone Put, Scottish Hammer Throw, Weight over Bar and Weight for Distance,
He said people will be “astonished at pageantry of the opening ceremonies of the games,” with the winners going to the world amateur Highland Games championship.
Then there is entertainment and includes a bagpipe competition and a Highland dancing competition as well as other groups performing on the Ghilli Dhu Pub Main Stage.
The Wicked Tinkers will lead a singalong and Stoney Bank and Scott Jeffers are in the lineup of performers. A Dogs in Kilts competition will be held at 3 p.m. March 7 and 2 p.m. March 8.
Besides folklore and music at the Learners Arm and Kiltlifter and Kiltlifter Tap Room stages, people also can enjoy pipe bands performing throughout the park.
Food and beverages include Scottish meat pies. “the best fish ‘n chips in the Valley,” four beer gardens, a whiskey tasting tent, scotch and chocolate tastings and a cigar lounge, Toupkin said.
Under the category of family activities are a genealogy tent, representatives from over 56 clans, a chance to don “Highland apparel” for a photo, a vintage British car show, a Highland boutique, vendors and experts who can help people plan a trip to Scotland.
And then there are activities for kids, who can visit Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster; learn archery and caber tossing, capture prizes in a “duck pond,” learn the Scottish game of golf and check out costumes.
Toupkin said the fifth category is the “fun outing” the games offer.
“There’s lots to do for every age,” he said. “Don’t leave Fido at home because we are pet-friendly.”
Parking is free and veterans and seniors can quality for admission discounts.
“Bring a lawn chair or blanket; Indian Steele Park is lovely,” he said.