More jottings from Kincardine . . . a few years ago I wrote an editorial about the event, and how it integrates the town with the contest. It’s a great idea, pipers walking the side streets of the town, and people giving up their front lawns for the myriad (way too many, actually) solo piping and drumming contests.
I was stationed on the front lawn (garden) of a lovely brick Victorian home, and it seemed like the owners had made a great effort to have the grass cut and the plants tended to so that the conveyor-belt of competitors, the steward (the venerable Betty MacLeod), and I could appreciate all there is to appreciate about their place. What’s more, they and many of the townspeople left their doors open to kilted folk to – get this – use their bathroom / washroom / toilet if needed.
Between events I partook of the facilities in one historic-looking house that when I entered was like a Beatrix Potter museum, full of antiques, frilly lace and nick-knacks. Seemingly, no one was home, and they simply trusted people to respect their place.
And I’m told they have done this every year since the festival started, so every year it would appear that we lot have indeed respected the townspeople’s property. Next to Maxville, Kincardine may be the most popular contest on the Ontario circuit. To control quality, the games organizers limit the band entry to 25.
There is an overwhelming sense of community at the Kincardine games, and it really reminds me again that their formula is an inspiration for how to run a great piping and drumming contest: extend goodwill and good faith to competitors and they will return it. It also recalls how, like the many 100-year-old small Highland games in Scotland, less can be more.