Nowhere do the Scottish Highlands influence the Peoria Irish Fest more than in the Highland Games.
It is reported that King Malcolm III of Scotland, in the 11th century, summoned contestants to a foot race to the summit of Craig Choinnich (overlooking Braemar). Some have seen this to be the origin of Highland games. However, modern Highland games are largely a Victorian invention, developed after the Highland Clearances.
Saturday is an exhibition, with a friendly competition between Scotland and Ireland. On Sunday, you might see fewer smiles, as an actual competition takes place. Athletes compete in:
- Braemar Stone / Open Stone – Weighing 20-26 lbs. and 16-22 lbs. for men, respectively, this closely resembles the “shot put” event of modern track & field.
- Heavy / Light Weight for Distance – “Light and heavy” weights — 28 lbs. and 56 lbs. for men — tossed with a one-hand throw.
- Caber Toss – A long log, hoisted vertically on the smaller end, is run forward and tossed so that the upper end strikes the ground first. Ideally, the other end falls over, landing at 12 o’clock on an imaginary clock, relative to the direction of the run.
- Sheaf Toss – A bundle of straw in a burlap wrap, weighing 20 lbs. for men, is tossed vertically from a pitchfork.
- Weight Over Bar – Athletes toss a 56-lb. weight (for men) over a bar with a one-handed throw.