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Highland Games brings slice of Scotland to SW Virginia

Event celebrates Scottish culture with athletics, music

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – The distinctive sound of bagpipes rang loud and clear in Roanoke County on Saturday.

The 11th annual Highland Games turned Green Hill Park into a congregation of Scottish culture. Pipe bands played traditional songs, while others set up booths to educate visitors about their Scottish roots.

"Our family has been in the lowlands for many, many centuries,” said Art Bailie, who donned a kilt and told passersby about his family history. “My family immigrated to Northern Ireland back in the 1600s.”

However, the root of the Highland Games is the athletic competition focused on historic strength events such as the caber toss. Competitors came to Roanoke County from as far away as Canada to test their might.

"It's a fun thing to say, 'I throw trees and stones and hammers in a kilt on the weekend,” said Aslynn Halvorson, a Highland Games competitor from South Carolina. “How many people get to do that? It's amazing."