New Hampshire Highland Games

The New Hampshire Highland Games and Festival on Loon Mountain in Lincoln, NH, is among the largest and most diversified games in North America. Celtic Life International spoke with the event’s administrative manager, Lois Meredith, about this weekend’s festivities.

What are your roles and responsibilities with the event?
I oversee the several aspects of the behind the scenes of the Games and work with the committee chairs in fulfilling their responsibilities. Additionally I oversee our 175 volunteers, without whom the Games could not run!

What is the event’s core mandate?
In three words, it is Heritage, Culture, Future. Expanded, our mandate is to preserve the Scottish Culture for future generations.

How has it grown over the years?
We are celebrating our 37th year in 2012 and have grown from our origins as a family gathering to one of the largest Games in the Northeast and certainly one of the most diverse in North America. With all the competitions, world-class music, seminars, living history, clan village, youth program, vendor villages, Scottish country dance and more there is something for everyone, Scottish or not. Over the course of three days the NH Highland Games & Festival sees approximately 23-26,000 attendees.

Who attends the gathering?
Those attending come from many areas, competitors who enjoy competing at such a large and excellent competitions, Clans and their members, followers for the Scottish heavy athletics, the general public that wonders what a Highland Games is all about.-

What can they expect to experience this year?
This year we are celebrating the year of the family so much of our focus is on the family.  We will be offering some special events for parents and children as well as offering free admission to children under the age of 15. As always we will have the Sheep Dog Trials, Scottish Heavy Athletics, great music from Albannach, Celtica, Searson, Hadrian’s Wall, Charlie Zahm, The Brigadoons, Fellswater, Ian Bruce & Ian Watson, Roy Johnstone & Steve Sharratt and Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas. Seminars, living history area, whisky tastings, a clan village with approximately 70 clans represented, a kilted mile and so much more!

Why is it an important event for the Celtic community there?
Our Celtic community stretches beyond NH’s borders to include most of the Northeast.  With so many Highland Games closing it is important for us offer the community the change to gather and celebrate and preserve our heritage. As a not-for-profit organization the Games is a big piece of our mission to preserve our heritage for future generations.

Why is it an important event for the non-Celtic community there?
We say come to the Highlands of NH. If you have never been to Scotland and wonder what it is like, here is an opportunity to get a sense of the many aspects of the Scottish culture – music, dance, history – all that we love about our heritage is celebrated. The non-Celtic community can come and see why there is so much to like and to celebrate!  –

What are the plans for the event in the years ahead?
We hope to continue what we have been doing for the past 37 years – and we are always open to new ideas and ways to celebrate and preserve our heritage.

Is enough being done to preserve and promote Celtic culture?
It is difficult to watch Highland Games, piping and dance studios and Celtic events close their doors for whatever reason. Support of events, centers, etc. is definitely needed at all levels. For our own Games we tell people that even if it is the support of a single or a group of medals, it all helps. Monetary support at whatever level one can afford is always welcome. Volunteer help is an integral part of our success, as is the support of the community – Celtic or not.

What can we be doing better?
Being a part of the community and making people aware of the need to preserve our culture, means that we need to take an active part in promoting ourselves. I recently saw a video on YouTube of a Highland Dance flash mob in Boston. A piper, some dancers and the attention they received! Such little effort for such a great result! This year Disney Pixar has given the Celtic community a great way to be visible with the release of their new movie BRAVE. We are planning so many events around the local movie screenings which helps to start dialogues for the NH Highland Games and our culture.  Taking these opportunities to put our culture in the spotlight means we can build relationships that will be lasting and helpful in preserving and promoting our culture through the coming years.