Sun Belt Invitational adds big money and a terrific silver belt buckle
Ten pipers will compete in the first Sun Belt Invitational Piping Competition – “An Crios Gréine” – on November 12, 2022, in Maitland, Florida, vying for relatively large prize-money (of course) a handsome silver belt buckle:
- Callum Beaumont, Dollar, Scotland
- Glenn Brown, Glasgow
- Bruce Gandy, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
- Nick Hudson, Houston
- Stuart Liddell, Inveraray, Scotland
- Willie McCallum, Bearsden, Scotland
- Angus MacColl, Benderloch, Scotland
- Ian K. MacDonald, Whitby, Ontario
These eight will be joined by the overall professional piping winners at the 2022 All-Ireland Championships in New Ross, Ireland, and the 2022 Grandfather Mountain Highland Games in North Carolina in July.
Prize money for each of the Piobaireachd and Medley events: 1st $1,000, 2nd $750, 3rd $500, 4th $250, 5th $100 (all amounts USD).
The aggregate winner will get $1,000, two tickets to Walt Disney World, and a sterling silver belt buckle designed by piper-composer Charlie Glendinning and made by Eleanor MacDougall on the Isle of Mull.
Each piper will have to submit eight piobaireachds of their own choice – the same requirement set for the Highland Society of London Gold Medal competitions at the Argyllshire Gathering and Northern Meeting at Oban and Inverness, Scotland, respectively. Beaumont, Gandy, MacColl, McCallum and MacDonald have won both gold medals, but eight own-choice tunes isn’t a problem for any piper at this level.
Underwriting the event is the Feeley Charitable Fund. Kevin Feeley, who manages the fund with his wife Cindy, asked that the event be dedicated to Shirley and George Bell for their contributions to piping, drumming, Highland dancing and the Celtic arts in the eastern United States. Kevin Feeley was a student of George Bell and a member of the Bell’s Kenmure Pipe Band in the 1970s and the Parlin & District under George Bell’s son, Jimmy, in the 1980s and early ’90s.
Funding for the event is also coming from the Piobaireachd Society, R.G. Hardie & Co., and the Royal Scottish Pipers Society, among others.
The competition is being organized by Eric Stein, who managed the Metro Cup Solo Piping Competition in Newark, New Jersey, for many years. The Metro Cup also pays homage to George Bell, and the Sun Belt Invitational Piping Competition similarly works with area pipe bands to sponsor contestants’ expenses, and some have secured workshops. Beaumont, Gandy, MacDonald, and McCallum have so far been sponsored.
“Piping has been a very important aspect in my and my wife Maureen’s lives. We want to give back to something that has given us so much.” – Eric Stein
“An Crios Grèine is to expose young people to the best people in our art and to provide scholarships for their tuition or summer schools,” Stein said. “Piping has been a very important aspect in my and my wife Maureen’s lives. We want to give back to something that has given us so much.”
The contest will be held at the Sheraton North Orlando hotel in Maitland, and tickets are US$15 for those 21 and older and free for those younger than 21. Tickets and more information can be obtained by email.
Judging will be Mike Cusack, Colin MacLellan, and Jim McGillivray.