Bute looks set for another tremendous day at the annual Highland Games tomorrow (Saturday).
Hundreds of dancers and athletes along with a couple of dozen pipe bands will descend on the island to take part in one of Scotland’s best Highland Games.
The organising committee has been working hard to complete all the arrangements, and now has everything in place for a very successful day – though members say they can’t guarantee the perfect weather they have planned for!
A highlight of the day will be the grand march of pipe bands and Highland dancers from the stadium to the town centre at the end of the Games.
More than 200 Highland dancers will be competing in the six Open Championships, covering all age groups.
Bute Highland Games are recognised as one of the leading Highland Dance events attracting many of the world’s performers to this prestigious competition.
In these austere times, it is difficult for pipe bands to afford the costs involved in travelling to competitions, especially on an island. So it is remarkable that the Bute Games have attracted 24 pipe band entries, a tremendous achievement and a tribute to the organising committee!
There is also a full programme of schools athletics for under-9s to under -7s boys and girls, together with junior heavyweight championships for each sex.
The organisers have advised The Buteman that there will be a new event this year – a Mini Olympics, which will take place at 1pm and is open to 4-5 year olds. This event is free of charge to all participants – just show up and take part!
Bute Games also hosts what has been described as one of the most scenic 10K Road Races in the country.
There are more than 150 registered competitors so far, and current estimates are that the final field could be as high as 250 runners.
Local runner Jim Sweeney will be notching up his 40th 10k at the games – it is a magnificent achievement and it is hoped that everyone will give him a rousing cheer when he sweeps home across the finish line.
At around 11am, a Junior Shinty Tournament should get underway and the good wishes of the Bute supporters will no doubt be behind the youngsters of Bute Shinty Club, who are fresh from their recent success in the McKay Cup Final at Fort William.
Official opening of the Games takes place at 12 noon, with the opening ceremony being carried out by the Honorary Chieftain, Ian Embelton, who is the Chief Executive of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association.
Rothesay and District Pipe Band will assist in the opening ceremony.
The Chieftain and his wife Annette will be accompanied in their duties by the Games Chairman David Anderson and his wife Elena.
The games arena and surrounding area within the public stadium is in perfect condition, but there is a change in car parking arrangements, it has been switched to the disused tennis courts adjacent to the shinty clubhouse. Parking for disabled drivers (blue badge holders) will be available within the Argyll and Bute Council yard adjacent to the stadium; and the council has also made this area available for officials’ car parking.
The Games Committee is respectfully asking members of the public not to park anywhere in High Street on Games day as this is extremely dangerous, particularly during the running of the 10K road race and during the grand march of pipe bands and Highland dancers from the public stadium into the town centre at the end of the games.
The various activities of the Games should wind down around 6pm, followed by the glorious sight of the massed bands marching down through the town to the ferry terminal.
We’ll see you there!