Pleasanton celebrates The 154th Scottish Highland Gathering and Games this Labor Day Weekend

PLEASANTON, Calif. (KGO) -- You do no want to miss one of the biggest cultural festivals in the United States. This Labor Day Weekend is the 154th Scottish Highland Gathering and Games at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton.

No matter what your heritage is, you'll find plenty of fun activities and attractions. The festival will have Scottish Highland dancing, bagpipe competitions, live music, sheep dog trials and lots of food.

This gathering will turn back the hand of times to the 16th century. Actors will portray the most prominent people in Scottish history, including Mary Queen of Scots parading with the clans.

"It is quite something to see," said Floyd Busby, publicist for the Scottish Highland Games. "We give the customer really good value for the dollar. We have more than 22 different events going on during the games. It's huge."

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The Caledonian Club has hosted the Scottish Highland Gathering and Games since 1866 in San Francisco. "It began as a club picnic that also had some athletic events, therefore it was technically our first games," said Busby.

Each year the festival has grown and the event came to Alameda County Fairgrounds in 1994.

Heavy Athletics is one of the most popular events. These are not your average games. Caber tossing is a big attraction.

A caber is a large, graduated pole made from a tree trunk that can weigh up to 130 pounds. Caber athletes hold the pole vertically by the narrow end and flip it.

Other Heavy Athletics events include the Shot Put, the well-known track and field event, and the Scottish Hammer, which involves throwing a large hammer weighing-up to 22 pounds.

"The Scots used whatever they could out of a game," said Tom Kincaid, Coach and Professional Caber Athlete. "We will have the heaviest cabers at the games. It is a very unique thing like no other. You don't see any other sport where you do that. "

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Music is an integral part of Scottish history. Bagpipers will be playing during the closing ceremonies. "The bagpipe is Scotland's national instrument," said professional bagpiper Chelsea Wells. "The first time I came out to this Scottish Games I was 15 and I was a beginner and I have been coming to this Highland Games to compete and perform."

No Scottish gathering would be complete without Highland Dancers. Dancers of all ages will complete. Highland Dancing once was a military exercise, intended to demonstrate strength and stamina.

"Pleasanton is the biggest games on the West Coast. We have Shinty, which is a traditional Scottish sport. We have the clan tents," said Andrew Davis, Scottish Highland Dancer. "There's vendors for everything that you can pretty much think of. A lot of people come here to have fun."

The Scottish Gathering and Games start at 8 AM Saturday, August 31st - Sunday, September 1st. Tickets will be sold at each gate.

For ticket prices visit their website.
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