• Original games were contests to find swiftest, strongest in the kingdom
By Sean Pearson
While an overcast sky brought only small snippets of sunshine, the tartan at Karen Hornaday Park flowed abundantly as athletes gathered for Homer’s Highland Games on Saturday.
The wearing of the kilt and playing of the bagpipes — along with occasional fog — brought a remarkably authentic “Scottish” feel to Homer’s games; at least for someone who has never actually stepped foot into Scotland.
Hosted by the relatively new Kachemak Bay Celtic Club, the 2013 Kachemak Bay Scottish Highland Games and Celtic Festival saw decent crowds trickle in and out all day. Some came to simply watch, while others checked out events like the Halibut Toss and the Mad Golfer’s Bag Toss. (Homer’s personal touch to the games.) Categories of competition separated men, women and children, and ranged from novice to masters.
Kids flung salmon and tried their hand at tossing the caber. (Not with actual trees, mind you. The “Bairns” heaved a four-inch cardboard tube.)
Oral history suggests that early versions of the games were gatherings designed to select the best warriors in each family tribe or clan.
Scotland first organized and designated the games as a sporting event sometime in the 11th century. In the United States, the first Highland Games were held in New York in the mid 1800s.
According to director Renee Krause, the Kachemak Bay Club was created in response to people’s interest in bringing the Scottish culture — mainly the Highland Games — to the residents of the Kenai Peninsula. With much help and lots of volunteers, the club hosted its first games in 2011.
Several athletes competed in a variety of games this year, but not all results were available by press time.
2013 Highland Games
Halibut Toss: Breanna Love, 28 feet, 2 inches;
Halibut Toss: 1. Sylvia Whipple 25-1; 2. Jenny McLaughlin, 24-6 1/2;
Mens Open: 1. Jody Potosky, 47-0; 2. Sean Fabich, 46-3; 3. Jimmy Johnson, 43-9;
Halibut Toss: 1. Josh Fraley, 35-9; 2. Steve Smith, 32-4; 3. Ivan Wolfe, 31-5;
Men’s Golf Bag Toss: 1. Sean Fabich, 74-8 1/2; 2. Jimmy Johnson, 62-7; 3. Jason Kepler, 61-8 1/2;
Women’s Golf Bag Toss: 1. Michelle Melchert, 46-9 1/2; 2. Jenny McLaughlin, 45-5; 3. Breanna Love, 42-1;
Mens Open: 1. Jody Potosky, 14; 2. Sean Fabich 15; 3. Jimmy Johnson, 36;
Homer Stone (80 pounds)
Novice Class: 1. Josh Fraley, 12-2; 2. Steve Smith, 12-0; 3. Ivan Wolfe, 11-10.
Amateur Mens Open: 1. Sean Fabich, 16-4; 2. Jacob Fraley, 14-7; 3. Jody Potosky, 14-0.
Women: 1. Breanna Love, 9-2; 2. Sylvia Whipple, 7-4;
• Shagger Elias Graham threw 7-9. He was entered in the Kilted Mile run and was awarded first place on a technicality.
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