Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Grandfather Mountain Highland Games

Posted July 7, 2010

Our cool mountain adventure idea today is Grandfather Mountain. I’ll be up there this weekend in my Scottish kilt helping to emcee the Highland Games. If you’ve never been you should really consider a visit. The Grandfather games offer an incredible array of activities for everyone in the family. The music in the Celtic groves is exceptional and includes everything from traditional Gaelic to Celtic rock. 

You’ll love the heavy athletic events including the caber toss. Watch big burly guys hurl telephone poles into the air with finesse and precision. The sheaf toss is another favorite. Plus, you might catch the Queen and King of the Mountain. These are athletes who run five miles straight up the mountain one day, bicycle more than 63 miles the next day and then run a marathon the following day. Lifetime Fitness Trainer Tara Wind, who helped me lose 10 lbs. last year, is participating in all three events this year and we wish her luck in becoming Queen of the Mountain. WRAL colleague Kelcey Carlson has run the Grandfather Mountain Marathon twice and has finished among the top of her age group both times. 

One of my favorite events is farmer Stan Moore who demonstrates the amazing herding skills of the border collies. Stan breathes new life into this Scottish tradition. Stan says that when it comes to gathering and penning livestock, one dog can do the work of three or four men. 

Sunday’s Parade of Tartans is another highlight. It’s a chance for all people of Scottish descent to come together and proudly display their tartan banners. Tartans of all types transform MacRae Meadows into a moving sea of Scottish culture and history. The music, the majesty and the mountains all help creative a powerful scene you will want to soak in and savor. 

Remember – a man in a kilt is a man and a half. I’ll be wearing the Leslie tartan with pride this weekend at Grandfather Mountain. I’d love to see you there. I promise it will be a lot cooler than the Triangle.

The games run Thursday through Sunday in Linville. 


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  • BubbaDuke Jul 12, 2010

    Saw Bill at the games this weekend. Beautiful site and perfect weather...OK, maybe a little too warm at Grandfather Mountain, but it was tons of fun.

    I never saw so many cross-dressers in my life as I did at the Highland games. One guy wore a cowboy hat and a skirt:). The Celtic bands were awesome. While the bagpipes were making awful noises on the field during judging, the rock bands made good use of this instrument.

    It was pretty funny to find out that anyone could belong to a clan, regardless of one's ancestry. My family is from Ireland and my wife's is from England, but both of us found out we belonged to the Galloway and the Roxbury clans by some hook or crook.

    I want to thank the highway patrol and the volunteer firemen for the great job they did on traffic control and shuttling fans to and from the mountain. We'll be back next year...but I'm not quite ready for a skirt just yet.

  • runjoeyultra Jul 8, 2010

    I'll be running the marathon and proudly running in my kilt. and then I'm running the marathon in reverse back to Boone. I love the Highland Games !

  • trinity_quickblade Jul 8, 2010

    Hope you get to enjoy some of Albannach's music. Tribal scottish music that speaks to your soul! :)

  • dharper22 Jul 7, 2010

    Hahahee. Your answer I've heard, Bill. Most often it's the truth. We hope to see you Saturday. Sure hope we get some rain but not that day. It's extremely dry again.

  • bleslie Jul 7, 2010

    mdoodle - you made me laugh! That's not a tacky question at all. The answer most like to give is that the only thing under a kilt is a draft!

  • blytle Jul 7, 2010

    Wow, I can't believe we asked such a tacky question!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sorry, Bill!!

  • blytle Jul 7, 2010

    Bill, you look great in your kilt? My husband posed the question that everyone wonders about what men wear under the kilt? He wondered if you are "authentic" or, as he put it, just a "tourist." Care to confess????????

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