July 26, 2020

Chicago Games try to keep momentum going virtually

The Chicago Scottish Festival & Highland Games will attempt to keep momentum moving ahead, the latest to implement “virtual” events throughout the day on August 1st.

There will be piping and drumming in some capacity, but competitions will give way this year to various online performances run by the Illinois St. Andrew Society and the Chicago Scots, organizers of the games.

The virtual games are free to register for, and proceeds from raffles and donations will go to the Scottish Home and Caledonia Senior Living and Memory Care.

The MidWest Pipe Band Association has held its annual general meeting at the Scottish Home for the last few years in sync with the Chicago Highland Games, which has become the biggest pipe band competition in the United States. In normal times, Chicago’s geographically central location and major airport hub makes travel to the event far more convenient and cost-effective for bands in North America and even around the world.

“I would encourage everyone to register for this event,” said Jim Sim, president of the MWPBA. “They have already started planning their 2021 Chicago Highland Games and they are talking about some interesting things in regards to the pipe band contest.”

Sim did not elaborate on what the “interesting things” might be. Unlike associations like the RSPBA and the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario, which put are contracted to manage and execute all aspects of piping, drumming and pipe band competitions, the MWPBA is engaged to sanction events, managing certain aspects of events, insuring accredited judges are used and rules are adhered.

The competition is already known for staging its Grade 2 and Grade 3 band events in concert formation. The RSPBA is reportedly considering trying the format once again as a way to provide more distance between players, among other benefits.

According to a comprehensive pipes|drums survey, Grade 1 and Grade 2 bands around the world are fairly divided on their preference for open concert formation versus the traditional closed circle that has been used since the beginning of pipe band competition.

The Chicago Highland Games has been running for 34 years. The organizers have sent out a “Games in a Box” basket of crisps, shortbread and other items for anyone who donates $100.



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