THE picturesque village of Ceres will come under the international spotlight once again next weekend when it plays host to the world’s oldest free highland games.
Visitors from all over the globe are expected to descend on the village on Saturday, June 30, to join in the fun as the event approaches its 700th anniversary.
It was established by Robert Bruce in honour of the Ceres men who fought at the Battle of Bannockburn on June 24, 1314, and, with the exception of the war years, it’s believed that games have been held in some form every year since.
The village green known as Bow Butts — so called because it was here that the men learned to use the bow — still provides the backdrop for the event, and in the view of president Brian Henry it forms a perfect arena.
“The Bow Butts is ideal as it’s right in the heart of the village and everyone gets a good view of the action,” he said.
“We pride ourselves on the fact that there are never any gaps in the entertainment; there’s always something happening in the arena.
“It is a family-friendly spectacle and the fact that it is free makes it even more special.
“All the funding comes from voluntary support and every year we are pleased and surprised by the generosity of both businesses and individuals.”
Ceres Games comprises all the traditional elements you would hope to find in such a quintissentially Scottish event, including pipe bands, Highland dancing, cycle races and, of course, the ever-popular heavy events.
While spectators arrive from all over the world, the competitors have taken on an international aspect too, with a number of eastern Europeans keen to test their skills in disciplines such as tossing the caber.
The famous tug-of-war competition always proves to be a popular spectacle, and this year participants include teams from south of the Border.
The day’s activities will begin at noon with a procession through the village headed by St Andrews and District Pipe Band and the proceedings will be formally opened at 1.15pm by Games Chieftain Rev. Jim Campbell, minister of Ceres, Kemback and Springfield parish churches.
He’ll preside over an afternoon packed with excitement and activities for the whole family - all free of charge.
To set the scene for the big day, a week of competitive events has been lined up for villagers, starting tomorrow (Saturday) with junior five-a-side football and continuing throughout the week with activities as diverse as treasure hunts, raft races, dominoes and quizzes.
Meanwhile, on July 8, Ceres Highland Games is to feature in ‘Scotland’s Finest: the Story of the Highland Games’ on BBC One Scotland at 8pm.
For full details of the Games, visit www.ceresgames.co.uk