Scott Medlin, director of many of the athletic competitions at Highland Games, is bringing a demonstration of “Heavy Athletics” to the Taste of Scotland and Celtic Festival on Saturday, June 15. The program will take place several times in the morning and afternoon on the old Franklin Motel grounds on W. Palmer Street. Along with the most dramatic event, Turning the Caber, Medlin’s crew of athletes will also toss the 56-pound weights for height (over steel towers that are raised higher and higher with each successful toss), and distance, toss sheaves (bales) with a pitchfork, and the Clachneart hammer throw. The group also is proficient at Scottish Wrestling. These are kilted events.
The Caber is a “peeled” telephone pole. The contestant balances the 22 ft. pole vertically on his torso until it is immobile and without further assistance runs until he feels he can tip it end over end onto the ground. The Toss does not count until the caber flips 180 degrees.
The events were initiated in the Celtic to Middle Ages to help warriors develop the strength to wield the long, weighty Claymore sword, the preferred weapon for running attack to close combat. The ability to swing the sword repeatedly with success took a great deal of practice. Now the Games are held all over the world where Scots meet.
The Festival also presents scaled-down Youth Games, patterned after Heavy Athletics, beside Town Hall on Saturday. Boy Scout Troop 298 will supervise the competition, assisted by Troop 235. Prizes for the best performances will be awarded.
A full-sized, replica collection of these large weapons, along with daggers and targes, may be seen at the Scottish Tartans Museum free of charge on Taste of Scotland Weekend, 10-5 Thursday- Saturday and 1-4, Sunday.