Bagpipes and BBQ at the Highland Games

Ewwww. Does the dang bagpipe stink or did you make a fluffy!?!
The real deal: Pulled pork nachos.

I’ve been going to highland games every few years since I was a teenager and the Green Hill Park version was today in West Salem, so I showed up with my Canon 80D and its 55-200mm lens, hoping to capture some lasting images. I think I got some.

I have two clans–the Buchanans and Macquarries (Americanized as the McCourrys)–one ancient and one more recent, both with butt-ugly tartans (a Christmas tree and a gay rights flag, in essence).

My buddy Marj’s feet caught my eye.

The games center on a group of exercises that bulky men and women engage in, throwing various farm implements, some for distance, others for height. There are the obligatory bagpipes (who in his right mind invented those damn things?) and drums, old Scots with their twisted hiking sticks and caps with the pom-pon on top.

My pals with the Roanoke Vikings, including the irrepressible Jeff Rigdon, almost always show up (this year with a couple of beautiful–I mean, like Be-U-ti-ful–young women), as does my good friend Marj Easterling, selling T-shirts she’s designed and printed (she’s also a Buchanan, so we’re cousins) and showing off her tatooed feet.

What’s under that kilt? Oh.

This year, the food feature was Erik LaFontaine’s barbecue ribs and pulled pork nachos (I swear to god). Jeff owns The French German eatery, and judging from the ribs, his food would make me slobber uncontrollably.

Herewith, some of what it looked like.

Camped out on a lovely day at Green Hill Park.
There was a lot of red hair. I love red hair. I won’t comment any more, but you get the picture(s).

OK, enough red hair.
That piece of metal weighs–basically–as much as my leg.
A couple of the athletes looked more like yoga teachers than Front Four members.
Other athletes were, well, super-sized.
Several of the women had arms like Batman. Or, maybe, Catwoman.
Always liked looking at boys in skirts.
Impressive pigtails (yep, they’re red).
This dude showed grit that I’d deem “true.”
Erik LaFontaine and his world famous ribs. He had 400 pounds of them on hand. Sellout? He did last year.
The announcer said this young fella is a scuba diver by trade.
Some of the athletes are patched together and held up with braces.
Jeff Rigdon led a contingent of Vikings (of the Valley).
The Viking helmets keep getting better.
Lovely Viking Julia Carter.
Lovely Viking II, Erin Langheim.
Kevin Miller has the reddest beard I’ve ever seen. All natural, no doubt.
A couple of future competitors (this rope is, like, heavy).
“Hey, Melva, where’s my wig? I got an interview for the bank job.”
Spinnin’ wheel got to go ’round. Talk about your troubles, it’s a cryin’ sin, ride a painted pony, let the spinnin’ wheel spin …
Adjusting the bagpipe. Does that make it more obnoxious?
Blacksmith puts a point on the conversation.
This is the Buchanan tartan. Ug-leeeeeeeeeee.
Oh, say can you see, the Scottish flag from here?
This bagpiper has a great look, so we begin and end with her (and the fluffy).

By admin

Dan Smith is an award-winning journalist in Roanoke, Va., and a member of the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame. He is an author, photographer, essayist, father and grandfather. Co-founder of Valley Business FRONT magazine and founder of the Roanoke Regional Writers Conference. On Advisory Board of New River Voice.

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