Published: August 19, 2021

Wisconsin Games cancelled due to worker shortages

The Wisconsin Highland Games, scheduled for September 3-5, have been cancelled, not due to COVID restrictions, per se, but mainly because of a shortage of food and infrastructure workers.

“It’s with great sadness and no small amount of frustration that we must announce that the 2021 Wisconsin Highland Games is cancelled,” games organizers Wisconsin Scottish said in a statement. “Due to circumstances beyond our control, we have had an issue with infrastructure providers being suddenly unavailable. Also, other core elements of our games would have not been available this year.”

It had been anticipated that the event would have helped to kick off a resume to some normalcy for competitions in the Midwest United States, and more than 280 contestants had entered for solo events sanctioned by the Midwest Pipe Band Association.

According to sources, the Wisconsin Highland Games would have been the largest solo entry in the two-decade history of the event, to coincide with the century celebrations of both the Chicago Highlanders and the Chicago Stockyard Kilty pipe bands.

Everyone is very disappointed. We would like to put something on as an association, but it isn’t just as easy as saying let’s meet in a park and play. Permits need to be applied for, judges hired and paid, parking restrictions. – MWPBA President Jim Sim.

The cancellation serves as a reminder that piping and drumming competitions are largely dependent on other factors. Dependencies include a shortage of service workers who are either reluctant to return or have moved on to better-paying jobs, policies set out by Highland dancing organizations, and other regional events that also compete for workers as music and other festivals also are eager to restart events.

“Everyone is very disappointed,” said MWPBA President Jim Sim. “We would like to put something on as an association, but it isn’t just as easy as saying let’s meet in a park and play. Permits need to be applied for, judges hired and paid, parking restrictions.”

The MWBA ran an outdoor in-person sanctioned competition at the Scottish Home in North Riverside, Illinois, on August 7th that saw about 80 performances.

“We cannot express [enough] our disappointment with this turn of events, but we will never move forward with a substandard product. We will begin immediately working on what will be our 20th anniversary in 2022,” organizers added.

Sim said that the MWPBA has several projects in the works for 2021, including the American Grade 5 Pipe Band Championships in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on September 18th.

The Cobourg Highland Games at Victoria Park in Cobourg, Ontario, are still on track for September 11th. Organizers have said that it will be the first in-person piping and drumming and pipe band competition in Canada since the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the cancellation of events, beginning in March 2020.

Cobourg Games organizer Pauline Davidson said, “The park will hold 14,000, but the local health unit has given us the okay to hold 5,000, which we are fine with. We will be offering hand sanitizer and will be taking contact information from everyone that comes in to the park.”

 

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