Published: March 18, 2015

Resurrected Montreal Games calls for pipe bands

Montreal_Games_largeFollowing a few years of uncertain funding, some changes to band-contest format, and then death of long-time organizer Kirk Johnstone, the Montreal Highland Games had to take a year off in 2013.

In 2014, the games came back in a new venue, with huge community support, large crowds and a packed beer tent, but not as many pipe bands as they would have liked.

Organizer Brian MacKenzie said, “We are reaching out to attract more bands to come and compete the Sunday after the Maxville Highland Games, making it a weekend full of activity.”

The games are hoping that bands travelling to Maxville will extend their stay to take in the games. This can be a hard sell for bands with their eyes on the bottom line. Bands travelling to the World┬╣s can see Montreal games as an unnecessary expense, and bands travelling a distance for Maxville have to budget extra hotels and travel.

The good news is that a successful day at the games can cover some of that, and bands attending Montreal Games typically enjoy the social atmosphere following the intensity of Maxville.

As well as pipe bands, Montreal continues to develop other aspects of the games.

MacKenzie says, “This year we are altering the plan and configuration to accommodate more spectator areas for viewing the events. More attention will be paid to Celtic entertainment, the concept of the Celtic village, and the kiddie’s corner gives this event a real family feel.”

Before going on hiatus, the Montreal games had experimented with inventive pipe band competitions in an invitational format. In an attempt to maximize crowd enjoyment, bands performed a free-form mini-concert on a stage.

The Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario lost sanctioning of the Montreal games some years ago and never regained it. The PPBSO has, however, gained sanctioning with the Highland of Durham Highland Games in Uxbridge, Ontario, in July.

Band entries for Montreal (no word yet of solo events) will be available on the web site.

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