August 24, 2021

Wisconsin competition saved by MWPBA

The recent cancellation of the Wisconsin Highland Games by the games organizers appeared to leave more than 200 contestants high and dry, as they were champing at the bit to get back to live and in-person competitions on September 4th.

The Midwest Pipe Band Association has stepped in to save at least the piping and drumming competitions, and the events will go on at St. John’s Military Academy in Delafield, Wisconsin, about 10 miles from the original venue in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

The original cancellation by games organizers Wisconsin Scottish Inc. (not the MWPBA) was due to a shortage of workers to serve the concession booths. The MWPBA said that there will be no food vendors on the new site, but a list of local food establishments will be provided.

The move is a rare time that an association has organized an outdoor piping, drumming and pipe band competition on its own.

“It will be great to hear you all playing again,” MWPBA President Jim Sim said in a statement. “I hope to see you all there. Spectators are encouraged and will be welcomed with no gate admission.”

The move is a rare time that an association has organized an outdoor piping, drumming and pipe band competition on its own. Typically, contests are contracted with third-party event organizers as one aspect of the overall day that would include Highland dancing, heavy athletics, sheepdog trials, and so forth.

“The entire event is being run by the Association,” Sim added. “It has been a whirlwind of a week to keep this together. We just had to have something as everyone was looking forward to this weekend as our first outdoor band contest since September of 2019. Covid protocols will be in place for everyone’s safety. We are still wrapping up the details but  the contest is set to go.”

He said that he is driving to Wisconsin from his home in Chicago to plan out the the site to be ready for September 4th.

With some Highland games struggling to stay viable even before the pandemic, such a move could be an indication that associations will have to stage their own outdoor competitions and performances. Associations around the world use different models for outdoor contests, with some, like the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario, selling a turnkey approach, where entries, stewards and judges are all coordinated by them.

Others, like the MWPBA and Eastern United States Pipe Band Association sanction competitions and advise organizers on how they should be run under association rules and standards, allowing them to recruit their own stewards and coordinate entries.

The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association provides a hybrid model. Its five major championships are offered as turnkey management, while smaller competitions are sanctioned, often with local organizers managing entries.



Wisconsin Games cancelled due to worker shortages




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