Saturday’s Highland Games to benefit Central Children’s Home

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OXFORD – With suitable Scottish weather forecast for tomorrow – mild, cloudy and thankfully minus the cold rain that plagued some performers on St. Patrick’s Day – it looks like perfect conditions are in order for the first-ever Central North Carolina Highland Games & Sheaf Championship.
The inaugural event – hosted by former Highland Games professional athlete Buck Buchanan – will be both hosted by and to benefit Central Children’s Home of North Carolina, located at 211 W Antioch Road. From 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., the campus will transform into a festive, Braveheart-like atmosphere with the Competitive Games – played by some 40 athletes from North Carolina and beyond – as well as An Gorta Mor Pipes and Drums , dancers, food and drink.
An Air Force veteran, Buchanan himself competed in the World Highland Games for 18 years.
Due to the pandemic and inflation, life at home has been very difficult for many, Buchanan said during an interview at Lumpy’s Ice Cream, the Wake Forest store he has owned for 11 years.
“I care about these kids,” he said. As a longtime member of a motorcycle club, Buchanan has organized rides to raise funds for both the Masonic and Central Children’s Home for years. But now, as a Central Children’s board member for two years, he wanted to do more.
“God says we have to take care of widows and orphans,” said Buchanan, a member of Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Wake Forest. “We wanted to come together and organize games that benefit the home and improve their lives.”
By “we,” Buchanan refers to certain sponsors he has asked to contribute, including The Forks, Over the Falls, Hendricks Auto, Johnston Hyundai of Cary and the Granville County Tourist Board.
“They didn’t hesitate,” Buchanan said. “My goal is to get as many people (at the games) to learn about the house, what they do and why they need help.”
With a fundraising goal of $10,000, everyone involved contributes. “People are really generous,” he said.
Billed as the nation’s oldest black orphanage, Buchanan said it’s not what it should be.
“It breaks my heart,” he said. “It should be a palace.”
Regarding the central element of the one-day event, to which admission is $20 – with all proceeds going to Central Children’s Home – Buchanan said: “We have an incredible class of professional athletes who come to participate.
Local athletes include Josh Colon from Oxford and Thor Gylfason from Raleigh.
With five classes of athletes rotating through the games all day, competitive events include: stone, 28-pound throw and 56-pound distance; the Scottish heavy hammer, a throw of 22 1/2 pounds for distance; the caber toss, carrying and flipping a freshly cut 20-foot tree; and sheaf throwing, using a pitchfork to throw a burlap sack with straw over a horizontal bar.
“Records will be broken,” Buchanan said.

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Jennifer R. Strohm