There can be little doubt that traditional Games of agility and strength have been practised in the Highlands from very early times. Formalisation and annual gatherings began around 1820 as part of the revival of Tartan and Highland Culture encouraged by Sir Walter Scott. In 1848 the Braemar Highland Games was attended by Queen Victoria. By this time the competitions were much as they are today with traditional stone and hammer throwing, tossing the caber, piping and dancing along with running and jumping events.
The first Crieff Highland Gathering was in 1870 and has occurred every year since with the two exceptions of 1914-18 and 1939-49 when no gatherings took place.
Due to the increasing popularity of the annual World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow, the organisers have decided to extend it from a one day event to a full weekend. Unfortunately, this will have a knock on effect for Crieff Highland Gathering in 2013 because, for this year at least, the two events will clash. It will, therefore, not be possible to hold a pipe band championships as part of this year’s Crieff Highland Gathering. Various options have been looked at by the directors of Crieff Highland Gathering to mitigate the effects of this, including moving the Games away from their traditional slot on the third weekend in August. For various reasons, this was not seen as a viable option, however, and the Games will proceed on Sunday 18th August as planned. Although there will be no formal pipe band championship, the directors are looking to invite a number of pipe bands who will not be competing at the Worlds in order to provide the piping spectacle the crowds always enjoy. It is also hoped that these bands will take part in the Sounds of Strathearn parade to the Market Park.
In order to make up for the lack of a pipe band competition, however, Crieff Highland Gathering have decided to host a separate pipe band competition on the Sunday following the Games, being 25th August. Because of the move away from the clash with the World Championships, it is hoped that the competition will attract more bands than have competed recently at Crieff Highland Gathering, possibly as many as 30 or 40. This promises to be quite a spectacle and we very much hope the competition will be embraced and supported by locals and visitors. Again, subject to police approval, it is hoped that Sounds of Strathearn will become involved in arranging a street parade of these bands.
Crieff Highland Gathering chairman David Gillies: “Although it will be disappointing not to have a pipe band competition on Games Day, the invitation of various pipe bands, together with the special attraction, will ensure the Games will remain the spectacle it always is. Also, the prospect of what could potentially be quite a large and exciting competition in Crieff the following week is one we are very much looking forward to. Pipe bands are always a popular feature of any Highland Games, so much so that we feel a stand alone competition will be a great day out for locals and visitors.”
Although the Market Park will not carry all the facilities and attractions as it will on Games Day, it is expected that there will be a number of trade stands on site for the pipe band competition, as well as the refreshments tents/stalls and the funfair.