Moncton Highland Games welcome thousands of participants after 2 years of pandemic restrictions

After two years of virtual editions due to pandemic restrictions, the Moncton Highland Games had their biggest year yet this weekend with over 5,000 attendees.

Games co-chair Stephen Tweedie, who helped organize the event for 16 years, said the budget for this year’s Games was five times that of the 2019 event.

“It’s one of our biggest events ever, probably the biggest event since we’ve been hosting the World Masters Championships in heavyweight athletics,” he said in an interview on Sunday.

“(Scottish Masters Athletics International) hold this competition every year in various locations around the world. And of course this year we won the right to host it and we had around 140 competitors from seven countries around the world.

He believes they have more than doubled attendance, with previous years typically attracting between 1,500 and 2,500 people. Large crowds gathered to watch international athletes compete in traditional Scottish games like the caber toss.

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Co-organizer Jenna Morton said 12 world records had been set at the Moncton Highland Games as of Sunday afternoon. Bryan MacLean of Moncton, who serves as athletic director for the Games, won a gold medal in his category in the caper toss.

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Moncton prepares for the Highland Games

It was Morton’s first year helping to organize the event, which she described as a daunting task.

In addition to the World Masters Championships, the Games also hosted a Highland Dance competition in which over 125 dancers participated, a junior class open competition for heavyweight events, a competition for pipe bands, as well as a sword fighting competition for the first time this year.

There were also “over 25 hours” of live music during the three-day event.

“It was very gratifying to see the crowds that came out for it this weekend,” she said.

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Jennifer R. Strohm