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A world-class line-up on show at Highland Games

Published: 27 Jul 2013 11:001 comment

PLANS for one of East Lothian's premier events are "well advanced", according to organisers, as North Berwick Highland Games draws closer.

The heavy events are always one of the highlights of the Games

The prestigious gathering which often attracts more than 10,000 visitors each year, goes ahead on August 10 at Recreation Park for the 16th year, with a wide variety of events meaning there is something for everyone.

There will be everything from pipe bands and solo pipers to Highland dancing and heavy events, including caber tossing and tug-of-war as competitors prove their brute strength.

The esteem in which the Games is held is shown by the calibre of pipe bands it is able to attract.

This year will see a record number of grade 1 pipe bands attending, with various world champions from Canada to New Zealand.

The 78th Fraser Highlanders will be returning after their first visit last year and will be joined by the likes of Shotts and Dykehead, and Dysart and Dundonald, who will find the Games ideal preparation for the World Pipe Band Championships the following weekend.

"All plans are well advanced," said John Starr, Games president.

"There are more than 75 [pipe bands] performing.

"We have a record number of grade one pipe bands, nine, and [entry] is still open.

"They are all world-class bands and it just makes our games more prestigious. We are an international games. This calibre only adds strength to our games. It is a good feeling to get these quality bands.

"We judge at North Berwick the same as they do at the World Championships. It is the same criteria. They'll know how well they are doing."

The game's organisers will be hoping for more of the Mediterranean weather that has hit the county in recent weeks. After the poor weather in recent summers, which has affected crowds, it is hoped that a dry day will help boost the number of visitors, with some attendances in previous years hitting about the 15,000 mark.

Mr Starr said: "It's a lovely day out and a great turnout. If we get the weather and sunshine it'll do us the world of good. The year before last it was rain and drizzle but we are hoping to get a dry day.

"Weather permitting it is usually about 10,000 people but we have had up to 15,000. We are not able to tell until on the day.

"It is a prestigious event for the town and the county so is well attended. There is something there for everybody."

With about 10 different grade events, the pipe band competition kicks off at about 9.45am, with the Highland dancing and solo piping at about 10am.

The heavy events, which includes the tug-of-war, hammer throw, the shot putt and the popular caber toss, get under way at noon. Once again there will also be women's events.

The prizegiving will start about 5.30pm with the chieftain for the day Morgan Flynn, head practitioner at North Berwick Health Centre, and depute chieftain George Purves on hand to give out awards.

The day will be brought to an end when the pipers salute the chieftain and depute chieftain before the parade.

The pipers will march from the park down to and through High Street.

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