The largest North American Championships in recent memory in terms of band and solo piping and drumming entries is set for July 29-30 when the tiny town of Maxville, Ontario, will again welcome more than a hundred-thousand visitors to the Glengarry Highland Games.
Of the 61 pipe bands entered, seven will populate the Grade 1 competitions, the largest top-grade event in North America for decades. Far-travelled Grade 1 bands like the 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel), City of Chicago, City of Washington and Oran Mor will return to Ontario for the second time this season, joining Ontario-based 78th Fraser Highlanders and Toronto Police to challenge 2010 North American Champions Peel Regional Police for the title.
The solo competitions number some 192 competitors across piping, snare drumming, tenor drumming and bass drumming events. The amateur solo events will be again held during the day on the Friday, while the Professional contests take place on Saturday morning.
“It is quite satisfying to see such a healthy entry at the Glengarry Highland Games this year,” said Charlie MacDonald, president of the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario, the association that sanctions the pipe band and solo competitions. “As to possible reasons for the increase, improving economic conditions may be one factor. However, the generous increase in the prize fund offered by Glengarry this year and the communication of these improvements to bands and solo competitors earlier in the year may also be part of the reason.”
The Piobaireachd Society (Canada) Gold Medal competitions will also be held on Friday with Reay Mackay judging the events.
The 2010 North American Championships had a 14 per cent decline in piping, drumming and band entries, which some chalked up to the cancellation of the Montreal Highland Games. The Montreal event was resurrected early in 2011, but will be run under the auspices of the newly-formed Quebec Pipe Band Association. The 2011 Montreal Games have a restricted entry, no solo competitions and no Grade 1 band competition.
The Glengarry Highland Games have taken place annually since 1948.