Game Over

It is not a good time for Highland games these days. The trends playing out in the festival world in general do not seem to bode well for the traditional model of large Highland gatherings. Add shifting economic conditions in the greater communities, and extinction or the threat of extinction looms for many long-lived eastern games. And it seems all but impossible for new games to sustain themselves (if they launch at all).

Now, the Colonial Highland Gathering at Fair Hill, MD near Newark, DE are threatened by the possibility of a large and significant development and expansion of the very horse grounds that hosts them. An expansion would create a cool site for a games several years down the road to be sure (if it’s adopted at all), but it would also draw higher hosting fees as well as a busier schedule for its designed purpose: horse shows. Would a mere Scottish games that was struggling to start with survive such a change? One Scottish festival on one day—as important as it might be to participants and spectators—is sure to get lost in the hullaballoo of debate that will surround this proposal. People close to the organizers say that these games are one rainy day away from complete extinction as it is. Anyone remember the Delco Games? The Devon Show Grounds in Devon, PA are as active as ever, but the Delco games were booted elsewhere long ago where they flopped around for a couple of years, then up and died.

I think it may be time for the aging organizers of the larger events to get creative. Games that sustain themselves on a model other than the traditional “patronage” model seem to be flourishing. Witness the recent Celtic Classic in Bethlehem, PA just one week ago. Two days, free admission, participation by the community, participation by local business, and crowds the envy of any cultural festival. Smaller festivals aimed at a local crowd also seem to do very well. Green Lane, PA hosts a two-day Celtic event in the county park that is also free and well attended, drawing great entertainment (the Glengarry Bhoys) and all the typical celtic bric-a-brac you can purchase. The EUSPBA calendar has nearly 50 sanctioned competitions at festivals of all sizes, but many will tell you how much they’re struggling to stay afloat. Something’s gotta give…

2 Responses to “Game Over”

  1. Save Cecil » Blog Archive » Pipe band association wonders about horse park impact
    October 2nd, 2005 07:46

    [...] Interesting contemplation about the delicate future of the Scottish Gamesat the Voicelog, the online journal of The Voice.   [link] [...]

  2. Mike
    April 26th, 2006 12:07

    I was just wondering if anyone knew where there might be scottish games in southeastern PA. If so could you email me

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