It is said that heavy athletic competitions similar to those practiced in Highland games originated in ancient Ireland. Sometime in the fourth or fifth century the games jumped over the water to Scotland, where the tradition endured. By the 11th century, if you wanted to prove that you had what it took to be a soldier or courier in Scotland, you had to do things such as correctly toss a caber (a large, tapered pole usually made from a Larch tree), throw a 56 lb. weight over a raised bar that is lifted higher with each successful attempt, and show your ability to play well with others by participating in a tug-of-war on a team of eight. Today's Highland games are an interesting mix of sporting, cultural and social components. On Saturday, St. Andrew's Society of Central Illinois, a nonprofit organization dedicated to keeping Celtic traditions alive, is hosting the games and festival at the county fairgrounds. In addition to those awe-inspiring feats of strength and might, the event will feature bagpipe bands, food, Scottish and Irish dance performances, a British car show, Scotch tasting, clan information and other Celtic cultural exhibitions. Tickets are limited and can only be purchased online. Visit centralillinoiscelts.com for more information.
Springfield Area Highland Games and Celtic Festival
Saturday, May 15
8 a.m.-10 p.m.
Sangamon County Fairgrounds
316 W. Birch St.