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From concerts to “The Gathering of the Clans”, Falconry to Heavy Event Sports, the Caledonian Club of San Francisco’s historic Scottish Highland Gathering and Games (the...

From concerts to “The Gathering of the Clans”, Falconry to Heavy Event Sports, the Caledonian Club of San Francisco’s historic Scottish Highland Gathering and Games (the largest such games worldwide) is coming to the Alameda County Fairgrounds this September 5th and 6th. Including the spectacular Drumming and Piping bands – nearly 40 of them, the “Games” now in their 150th year attract over 35,000. Ov the 21 events and attractions, perhaps the best recognized are the Heavy Events – which feature the world’s top professional and amatiur athletes. Think tossing telephone poles – try it… not so easy! These athletes come from 7 countries and 12 states. Visit our site and save with advance ticket purchases. As always, kids 11 and under and mactive ilitary are FREE.

About the Games:

Sesquicentennial Scottish Highland Gathering and Games Today, the Caledonian Club of San Francisco’s Scottish Highland Gathering and Games are the largest in the USA. This year’s 150th Games is a 2-day event that will take place on September 5-6 at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton. It features the World Heavy Events Championships, the US Drum Major Championships, the Western U.S. Open Highland Dancing Championships and various grades of Pipe Band Competitions. Other competitive events include the Kilted Mile Race and Soccer, Shinty and Rugby competitions. Visitors to the Games can enjoy Scottish Country Dancers, the San Francisco Scottish Fiddlers and other traditional entertainment on the Celtic Heritage stages. Other events include Birds of Prey and Archery exhibitions, historical re-enactments, historic British cars and motorcycles, sheep dog trials, Clan Glen with over 100 Clans, Children’s Glen, Clydesdale horses and Highland cattle. In addition, there’s more entertainment in the Irish Pavilion, Traditional and Celtic Rock Bands on the Entertainment Stages and whisky tasting and master classes with “˜Whisky Live’. Finally, each day, the Games Grandstand Show features the ceremony, competition and entertainment of the Games including the hugely impressive March of the Massed Bands with over 600 pipers and drummers. The Sesquicentennial Scottish Highland Gathering and Games are produced entirely by volunteers from the Caledonian Club of San Francisco, and does not take government funding or apply for foundation support.

 

Caledonian Club of San Francisco’s Scottish Highland Gathering and Games History:

Long before colonists began to settle in the New World, Scotland already had a lengthy history and culture. Heavy Athletics Events were being held in Scotland at least 1,000 years ago, and some historians believe that Heavy Events originated during Druid times! Heavy Events began as tests of strength and conditioning for Scottish troops. A tree trunk would be made into a caber and tossed by the strongest military men. Smooth rocks from river beds would be heaved for distance. Lead weights would be tossed underhand over a bar more than twice as high as the athlete. Over the centuries, Heavy Events evolved from military exercises into festivals for the Scottish public, and with the addition of dancing, music, food and drink, the Highland Games were born. They are a traditional method of passing Scottish culture from generation to generation, and held throughout Scotland and the rest of the World. Caledonian Club of San Francisco’s Inaugural Games In 1866, San Francisco had been sobered by the Civil War, the bloodiest war in American history. It was also still recovering from the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln and the gunning down in a city street of prominent newspaper editor, James King. Back then, California’s gold rush had attracted many a Scot to San Francisco, and some seventeen Scots congregated in the recently established Ale Vaults on Summer Street to plan San Francisco’s first Games. Less than a week later, the inaugural Games were held at San Francisco’s Hayes Park on 12th and Market Streets on Thanksgiving Day 1866. The Club’s inaugural Games were more of a family picnic and athletic content featuring nine competitive events including hammer throwing and stone putting, and threelegged and blindfolded wheelbarrow races. This article (right) published in the following day’s Daily Evening Bulletin covered the Games. It noted that the “solid silver quoit” awarded to quoits champion, Mr Carmichael, was valued at $50, which was no mean prize in 1866!

A History of Tradition and Growth The Caledonian Club of San Francisco’s Scottish Highland Gathering and Games have taken place every year since 1866. They have survived World Wars, earthquakes, economic depressions and Bay Bridge closures. Since that inaugural event in San Francisco’s Hayes Park, the scale of the Games has grown as more events were added and bigger crowds turned up. Over the years, the Games have been held at various locations in San Francisco, Sausalito and Oakland before settling on Santa Rosa in 1962. The Games remained there for the next 32 years, hosting the Centennial Games of 1965 and the first U.S. Invitational Heavy Events Championships in 1975. In 1994, the Games moved again to the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton where they’ve been held ever since.

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