Highland Games on display at Celtic Festival

SHERMAN, Texas (KXII) – This weekend Sherman celebrated the 5th annual Celtic Festival…and it wouldn’t have been complete without the traditional Highland Games.

“The festival is really centered around the Highland games as well as our pipe and drum competition and our Highland dances,” said Rob Ballew, Founder and Director of the Sherman Celtic Festival. “Everything else is an added extra bonus.”

From caber throwing to sheaf throwing, athletes have come to show off their strength and skills in some of the rarest sporting events.

“It’s hard if you know what you’re doing,” Ballew said. “And it’s really, really difficult if you don’t know what you’re doing.”

“I basically just started coming to competitions and learning as much as I could from my fellow competitors,” Highland Games competitor Elissa Van Vleck. “So it’s been a ride since then. You learn very quickly that you need a lot of stamina and strength.

The different type of competition is what prompted many athletes to start participating in the games.

“Some of the people I know also found the Highland Games to be the sport they turned to after they got tired of weightlifting,” Kimberly Lim said. “The sheaf toss is my favorite again. Having an Olympic weightlifting background probably helps a lot and being really tall. Since I’m 6’1′, I’m closer to the bar than them.

“There are nine events to choose a favourite, it’s difficult,” said Van Vleck. “But I had a lot of success with the height events, sheaf.”

The Highland Games community is always looking to grow.

– “Different from other sports, even though we compete against each other, everyone wants to see you do your best and will support and coach you,” Lim said. “That’s what keeps me coming back.”

Those interested in competing in the Highland Games can contact the Sherman Celtic Festival at Facebook and they can put you in touch with a local athlete in Texoma.

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Jennifer R. Strohm