Communities feel the loss as Highland Games season collapses

The steady cancellation of Highland Games events will see communities lose one of the most anticipated days of the year.

Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 10:19 am
The community comes out in force to support Markinch Highland Games but will again be deprived of their showpiece event this year. Pic by Andrew Elder

That’s according to Shane Fenton, secretary of the Markinch Highland Games and a member of the Scottish Highland Games Association’s general council.

Within the past seven days the Kingdom has seen games in Markinch, Ceres and Burntisland shelved for another 12 months. Cupar cancelled its in February.

Despite the gradual easing of lockdown, the remaining guidance on travel and gathering in numbers means the games simply can’t be held safely.

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Shane has a long association with games season and now fears this year will suffer the same fate as 2020 when the entire calendar was wiped out.

He told the Gazette: “The games are the biggest day of the year in the communities they’re held.

"It's the day when the kilt comes out for the year and donned for the occasion.

"It's the day the members of these local communities get the chance to meet up with friends for a drink and a chat, for many it's the only time of the year this will happen.

"It's the day many who have moved away from their home town return for the day to support the event and meet old friends.

"The loss of these days are a loss to many of the local businesses in the towns.”

It’s not just in Fife where the games are being halted, across Scotland countless events have already been cancelled.

As part of his role with the games association, Shane attends around 25 events each summer, something he has been doing, until the past 12 months, for 50 years.

Although not all events in Fife have currently been cancelled, there is a growing belief that it’s now becoming a matter of when, not if, they are.

Shane added: “Some of the later games in July and August will wait a bit longer (before cancelling) hoping things improve.

"They may well do, but not enough, and I fear they are just delaying the inevitable.”

The games are also heavily supported by overseas visitors and that looks unlikely to happen this summer.

Overall, at the time of writing, 21 of the SHGA 61 member games have now cancelled.