First time Highland Games & Celtic celebration coming to Columbia

Highland Games will make its first appearance in Columbia, S.C., on April 2, 2011, from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Historic Columbia Speedway in Cayce. Highland Athletics are nine strength based competitions that predate recorded history. In the caber toss, competitors toss and flip a tree trunk measuring over 18 feet. The games are only a part of a much larger Celtic celebration labeled Tartan Day South . The celebration will include nine hours of live music, Celtic dancing, pipe bands, herding demonstrations, British car and motorcycle show, artisans and much more. The festival promises patrons the opportunity to enjoy true Irish and Scottish culture just five minutes from the Statehouse and Downtown Columbia.

Tartan Day South was created around National Tartan Day, April 6, to recognize that Americans of Scottish descent have played a "vibrant and influential role in the development of the United States." The festival was developed in Columbia because of the tremendous concentration of Irish and Scottish descendants in South and North Carolina.

"The [Historic Columbia] Speedway lends itself perfectly for handling an event of this nature. The nine acre grass infield provides the space necessary to hold multiple activities at the same time. The venue offers plenty of parking just moments from downtown and I-26," said Donavan Murray, President of Celtic Force Enterprises, a company that helps produce other such festivals around the region.

The event will be the kick-off to the Highland Games season throughout the Southeast. The celebration begins Friday, April 1, with a dinner and reception at the event's host hotel, the Holiday Inn & Suites Columbia-Airport on McSwain Drive in West Columbia. The evening will host a whisky tasting as well as a kilt fashion show with live music to season the night. The event moves to the Speedway on Saturday, April 2, for a full day of festivities.

Highland Athletics are in many ways the precursor to many of our current track and field events. These events will be done old school in a manner established hundreds of years ago wearing traditional kilts. The events include the stone toss (16 and 22 pound), hammer throw, weight for distance (28 and 56 pound), weight for title=""> or contact John Banks at (803) 665-7620.