The Highland Games carry on Scottish traditions

AVERY COUNTY, NC – Steve Kelley, 89, travels to Avery County from South Carolina every year.

“I have more Scots in me than the average Scotsman,” Kelley said.

What would you like to know

The Highland Games were back in Avery County

Games attract people from all over the world

Steve Kelley has been a games volunteer for over 50 years

Kelley returns each year to volunteer at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, an annual Scottish celebration of music, food and field games. It is a family tradition that goes back several generations. The 65th annual event took place July 7-11.

He remembers his first trip like it was yesterday. A friend told him about the event, and he drove down from West Virginia to take part in the action in 1967.

“We made music all night and I danced. I danced a lot. My ankles got big,” Kelley said.

This trip to the mountains of North Carolina completely changed his life.

“Right over there in the corner over there, Frank was playing the violin, and there was this girl with a white strand in her hair, and she was dancing on that, and I thought she couldn’t be that bad that that.” Kelley said.

This girl has become his wife. The two are about to get married for 50 years.

“It’s a family. I saw children back then meet young girls, get married, come back to games and eventually come back with their children and grandchildren,” Kelley said.

Kelley says these Scottish games are now known to be the biggest in the world. People come from all over to compete.

He will never forget the memories here, the people he met and the stories he heard.


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Jennifer R. Strohm

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