This was a banner year for the Loch Norman
Highland Games held at Historic Rural Hill Farm. Although there was a bit
of rain that did not deter thousands of local residence and visitors from
all over the United States, Canada, and even Scotland from coming to take
part in what was one of the more memorable in the history of the Loch
Norman Highland Games.
The event actually began early Thursday
morning as Jon Wilson of the Charlotte affiliate FOX News Rising show came
to the site for a two hour live shoot to interview members of the Catawba
Valley Scottish Society about what would take place at Rural Hill that
weekend. Members and participants came out in their kilts with bagpipes
playing and athletic implements to demonstrate on television. It was a
foggy morning which set the atmosphere perfectly. Jon Wilson even dawned a
kilt during the show and fired the famous Ferguson rifled musket, which
Ricky Roberts of the colonial encampment demonstrated.
Friday evening between 95-10 Scottish Clans
gathered for the Call of the Clans reception along with several hundred
onlookers to witness the unveiling of the very first Coat of Arms granted
to a Scottish Games organization in the United States. Romilly Squire, the
chairman of the Heraldry Society of Scotland, made the special
presentation of this highly significant recognition to the Catawba Valley
Scottish Society. This was a very proud moment for members of the Catawba
Valley Society as being the very first to receive this distinction. Also,
revealed were the first architectural renderings of the new Scottish
Cultural Center which will be built in the upcoming years at Rural Hill.
This facility will provide visitors an opportunity to gain the
Scottish-American experience when they come to Rural Hill. Also, the
fundraising campaign kicked off for the recently discovered grandfather
clock which belonged to the Davidson family. Currently the clock is
destined for auction in Boston unless local supporters can keep the clock
here in Mecklenburg County where its true history lives. Through pledges
and contributions at least one-fifth of the money was raised at the Loch
Norman Highland Games. Contributions can be sent to Rural Hill Farm.
The Games officially began
Saturday morning with drizzling rain, but it soon passed, and by midday
the breeze was blowing and the sun was shining with just a bit of overcast
which made it perfect for the games and activities to go into full swing.
Thousands of people came through the front gates beginning as early as 8
am. More than 90 Clans and families had elaborate tents of information and
displays bordering the entire athletic and parade field. Some 18 Bagpipe
bands competed, along with fiddle and harp musicians, and the Highland
Dancing competitions. Heavy Athletic events took center stage both
Saturday and Sunday with records being set for the games and the world.
On Sunday another World Record was
set by hometown favorite, Eric Frasure, who threw the 22 lb Hammer 122
feet 10 inches. Although Eric set this world record for Amateur Scottish
Heavy Athletics, he missed the professional United States title record by
only 2 inches, currently held by Carl Braun. Carl has competed at the Loch
Norman Highland Games on numerous occasions. Eric is also coming close to
capturing the world record for the 28 lb Hammer with his throw of 86 ft. 2
inches. The current record is 87 ft. 6 inches.
An interesting note on the 22 lb
Hammer event is that it has been one of the most difficult to break in the
professional ranks. The world record of 123 feet 9 inches was set by Bill
Anderson in 1969. His record stood for 14 years. That record has only been
broken three times since 1969. The United States record has only been
broken three times in the last 25 years. The current professional U.S.
record was set in 1993. This is significant to note because most
professional athletes reach their best marks in their thirties, and Eric
Frasure is only 21 years old. If you are interested in finding out more
about the events and other statistics in Scottish Heavy Athletic events
visit the NASGA at:
Other events and activities
throughout the weekend included Sheep Dog demonstrations, the Carolina
Raptor Center displaying some of their premiere birds of prey, and the
Scottish colonial encampment of living history interpreters. Food and
drink vendors provided a delicious taste of Scottish cuisine, and visitors
picnicked while listening to world renowned musicians Ed Miller, Brian
McNeill, and the Celtic band, Henri’s Notions. Saturday evening the
Scottish band Albannach played for several hundred fans at the local Irish
pub in Cornelius, the Galway Hooker.
Sunday morning service was held at
the Davidson family burying ground where the original settlers and their
descendants of Rural Hill have been laid to rest. The Reverend Jeff
Lowrance of Hopewell Presbyterian Church gave an inspiring sermon and
provided a detailed historical sketch of John and Violet Davidson and
their significant contributions to the establishment of Mecklenburg County
and the fight for American freedom in the American Revolution.
Following the worship service the
Scottish American Military Society advanced onto the parade field to be
recognized for their 25 years of service. Afterward the S.A.M.S. held a
formal ceremony retiring United States flags which had been brought to the
field by individuals for proper retirement.
The 13th Annual Loch
Norman Highland Games was concluded with a somber ceremony around the
Cairn at Rural Hill, which is a memorial to friends and family of members
and friends who have passed away in the year.
Keets Taylor (Executive Director) and Sherrie
McLamb (General Manager)
Eric Frasure. He broke the world record in
Amateur Heavy Athletics in the 22lb Hammer Throw
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