Published: 19/07/2014 06:57 - Updated: 18/07/2014 11:53

Tomintoul prepares for Highland games

Chieftain James Fraser
Chieftain James Fraser

ONE of Scotland’s oldest Highland games will get underway today.

Organisers are expecting crowds to flock to the public park for Tomintoul Highland Games, which is now in its 173rd year.

Competition begins at 11am, with the massed pipes and drums marching into the park from the village square at midday, led by games chieftain James Fraser.

The bands will play throughout the afternoon, with drum majors competing to throw their maces over a banner in time to the music.

Heavy events are a particular attraction for foreign visitors, with athletes taking part in hammer and stone throwing as well as caber tossing.

Light events include the high jump, long jump and various distance races on the track.

The hill race gets underway at 2pm, following a route around Tom na Bat Hill.

Individual piping competitions are split into the various styles including pibroch, Strathspey and reel, march, hornpipe and jig.

A new trophy will be presented this year to the winner of the under-14 piping category.

The family of the village’s former district nurse, Helen MacFarlane, who died last year, have donated the award in her memory.

There are already 80 competitors signed up for the Highland dancing, which will include the sword dance, hornpipe and seann truibhas. There will also be a tug o’ war, a barrel race and ‘tilt the bucket’ competitions.

Events at the park will come to an end at 5pm.

A children’s fancy dress competition will be held in the Square from 7pm, with a dance beginning in the Memorial Hall at 9pm.

Games secretary, Patricia Grant, is keeping her fingers crossed for dry weather.

"Our senior judge will be Gordon Forbes, who is from Avonside but lives in Urquhart," she said.

"We have managed to keep our sponsors, which is really good in times when cash is tight."

She thanked sponsors for their continued support.

Four people will be honoured at the games for their efforts in organising the event over the years, but their identities are being kept secret.

Entry for competitions can be registered today. For more information, visit www.tomintoulhighlandgames.co.uk

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