Kilts for a Good Cause: Harpers Ferry Highland Games Benefits Local Fire Company | WDVM25 and DCW50

HARPERS FERRY, W. Va. (WDVM) – Normally when people think of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, they think of the rich Civil War history rooted in the small town, not the Irish Highlands. But kilts and bagpipes flooded the historic city for a good cause.

The Friendship Fire Company has teamed up with neighbor The Barn, a local event venue, to host a competition like no other. Chad Gauthier, co-owner of La Grange, explains that he wanted to organize the contest to bring people to the small town as well as to benefit a local organization or charity.

“We’re basically starting the first inaugural Highland Games here at Harpers Ferry,” Gauthier explained. “This is a major fundraiser for the local fire department.

About 35 people, mostly dressed in kilts, took part in feats of strength like ax and barrel throwing, fighting sticks and caber throwing, where competitors attempt to vertically flip a tall, slender pole.

Ryan Chronister was one of the competitors at the Inaugural Highland Games, but it wasn’t the first time he stepped into the ring to test his strength. He says the rush of competition is what keeps him coming back.

“It’s kind of like a roller coaster, I have anticipation, a little nerves, but when you’re in it, you just enjoy the rush,” Chronister said.

Chris Higdon, president of the Friendship Fire Company, says he is grateful for the generosity of the neighborhood that has been extended by The Barn. He pointed out that it was Chad and his wife, Kerry, who approached the fire company with the idea for the fundraiser. He explained that the fire company will have no problem finding a use for the donation.

“It can be used for a number of things, I mean volunteering here in Jefferson County is really struggling these days in terms of running operations with the limited budgets that we have,” said Higdon said. “We will find something to do with whatever it is. We are just so grateful that someone really thought to let you know about the benefits of being able to allow us to serve our community.

Some of the money raised through the Highland Games will benefit not only the Friendship Fire Company, but also the Loudoun Career Firefighters Foundation. Gauthier also hopes to make the competition an annual event with different charities and organizations benefiting from the event.

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Jennifer R. Strohm