Cupar Highland Games, which date back to 1880s, fold after appeal for help fails

Cupar Highland Games have been disbanded after organisers couldn’t find any locals to take the event on.
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They issued an appeal in February for new volunteers to come on board and keep the traditional gathering alive, but said this week that they had reached the end of the road. The games date back to at least 1886, and were restarted in 1979. They were part of the region’s summer circuit, drawing big crowds and featured a number of athletes who went on to become household names across Scotland including Linsey McDonald, Liz McColgan, and Yvonne Murray.

In a statement on the games’ Facebook page, it said: “The committee of Cupar Highland Games regret to inform you that the games are now disbanded . Unfortunately we have been unable to find anyone to take on the games and therefore we have taken the decision to close the games. We would like to thank all attendees, suppliers and supporters for their support over the last few years.”

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The event was put on hold during the pandemic, but it also didn’t take place in 2022 or 2023 as the small team of volunteers at the helm sought more support.

Cupar Highland Games appealed for more people to come forward last year (Pics: Fife Free Press)Cupar Highland Games appealed for more people to come forward last year (Pics: Fife Free Press)
Cupar Highland Games appealed for more people to come forward last year (Pics: Fife Free Press)

The 2022 cancellation decision was taken “with considerable sadness” with the committee highlighting feedback from vendors and traders, and the low uptake of online tickets. It speculated that 2022 was a year too early for a return following the pandemic and denoted: “Visits from tourists play such a big part in the income of the Games and, here again, the economy both in this country and abroad seems too sensitive to guarantee even a reasonable attendance on the day.

A follow-up appeal early in 2023 was aimed at finding new blood to restart the games this year with the committee remaining part of the Scottish Highland Games Association.

The games were brought back to Cupar over 40 years ago by David Martin, John Hendry and David Lang, assisted by members of the town’s Round Table – and for many years the event flourished. It was written into its constitution that profits over and above expected running costs were to be donated to local charities and to assist with Scottish athletes attending the Commonwealth Games. Since 1979, a total of £35,000 has been passed on.

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The games have also given recognition given to many locals for their part in assisting the community and to others for service in the wider field. The honour of being ‘Games Chieftain’ has been bestowed on well-known figures such as Menzies Campbell, David Rollo, Richard Brickley, Ronnie and Mary Law, Alan Wells and Caroline Innes.

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