This past Saturday, April 1, 2023, was the 55th Dunedin Highland Games and Festival. The annual event takes place at Highlander Park, in Dunedin, Florida. The Highland Games are one of the oldest and most treasured events in Dunedin, as the event showcases a community passion to preserve and pass along the traditional Scottish Arts and honor the history of the area, which was settled by Scottish immigrants over 100 years ago. This year, the Games enjoyed beautiful weather and record attendance, thanks in part to a developing sponsorship and relationship with Visit St Pete-Clearwater. The event showcases various competitions in Scottish Arts, such as bagpiping, drumming, Highland Dancing, and Scottish Heavy Athletics. The Highland Games can trace their history to a centuries old tradition in Scotland, where the Clans of Scotland would gather together to socialize and compete with one another. This year’s Dunedin Highland Games welcomed 43 Scottish Clans and Societies, 15 Pipe Bands, 285 Kilted 5k Race runners, and hundreds of Highland Dancers.
Currently, I serve as the President of the Dunedin Scottish Arts Foundation, which is the non-profit organization that organizes and presents the Dunedin Highland Games. The months, weeks, and days leading into the event are very busy working to coordinate the many aspects of the Games. As a drummer and teacher, the Games is also busy as a competitor and performer. For many of my students in the Dunedin Middle School Pipe Band and Dunedin High School Pipe Band, this contest serves as their final competition and performance for this school year. It was very rewarding to see the progress so many young players have made since the school year started back in August.
As a solo competitor, I was pleased to finish in the Open category as “Snare Drummer of the Day”, winning first place in the March, Strathspey, & Reel event, and second in the Hornpipe/Jig event. The City of Dunedin Grade 1 band, that I am the Lead Drummer for, delivered two strong performances for an extremely knowledgeable adjudicators’ panel and gained valuable insight for our musical preparations before the band travels to compete later this year. As only one of two Grade 1 Pipe Bands in the USA, we did not have any direct competitors at the games this year.
While the Dunedin Highland Games are over for 2023, discussion is already underway for the 56th event: April 6, 2024! http://www.dunedinhighlandgames.com