by Erica Eades
© Brent Eades
With 20 pipe bands, nearly 100 dancers and some of the top heavyweight athletes in the country, the 29th Annual North Lanark Highland Games (NLHG) – held Saturday, August 25 at the Almonte Fairgrounds – was the perfect combination of artistry and athleticism.
This year’s theme was all about athletes, sports, health and wellness. George Chiappa was chosen as the 2012 guest of honour because he truly exemplifies these traits. A former University of Ottawa football player, Chiappa has been competing in Scottish heavyweight events since 1981 and at the NLHG since they began in 1983. He now operates the Centre for Strength and Athlete Development in Ottawa, where he helps others achieve their health and fitness goals.
Also in attendance was the Cameron Highlanders’ Pipe Band. The group, whose roots can be traced back to the mid 1800’s, returned this year as the 2012 Duty Band. They treated guests to a number of performances, both massed and solo, throughout the day.
As usual, the athletic events were a main attraction at this year’s NLHG. There were many impressive tosses and throws throughout the day, but three athletes managed to fight their way to the top: Markus Wand of Powassan, Ont. took the prize in the men’s professional heavyweight division, while Paul Boundy and Heidi Lowry won the men’s and women’s amateur titles, respectively.
Of course, the Games would not be complete without a little highland dancing. Girls from across Ontario, Quebec and even New York State competed for titles in the beginner, novice, intermediate and premier divisions. The award for Most Promising Dancer went to Catherine Wood, and Laura Donlan was named Premier Dancer of the Day.
Paul Virgin, MC of the event, summed up this year’s festivities perfectly when he said,
“The North Lanark Highland Games has survived for 29 years because of innovative ideas – because we’re determined to keep the event small, affordable, and above all, a family day.”