CALUMET - The Main Street Calumet Heritage Celebration focuses on different ethnic groups each year, and this year it's the Celts turn to get the spotlight.
Although events for the celebration started Monday and lasted through the week, the big day is Saturday with the Great Deer Chase bicycle race, the parade, a pipes and drum group, dancers and, of course, the Highland Games, complete with kilts.
Tom Tikkanen, Main Street Calumet executive director, said the Highland Games athletes will be available tonight at 6 p.m. for a meet and greet at the Michigan House on the corner of Sixth and Oak streets.
Tim Bies, owner of the Michigan House, is brewing a special Wee Hearty Ale for the occasion, Tikkanen said.
"The public is encouraged to attend," he said.
Tikkanen said the Miss Coppertown Pageant will take place at 8 p.m. in the Keweenaw Heritage Center at St. Anne's.
Although it isn't exactly Celtic, Tikkanen said Saturday starts off with a Tannukakku, or Finnish pancake breakfast at 8 a.m. in Agassiz Park. The Great Deer Chase starts at 10 a.m. heading north on Fifth Street. As soon as the last cyclist clears the street, the Heritage Celebration parade will head south on Fifth Street from the Colosseum. There will be no parking on Fifth Street for the race and parade, but Fourth and Sixth streets will have parking.
A family scavenger hunt will start in Agassiz Park and run through the morning.
At 8 p.m., a ceilidh (kay-lee) will take place at Dolly's L&L Bar, Tikkanen said. The event includes jokes, songs and music.
"It's very lighthearted," he said.
The Highland Games will start as soon as the parade finishes, and the athletic director and judge for the events is Jerry Bowersox, who is from Hudsonville, Mich.
Bowersox said he has been involved with Highland Games for a couple decades, and at 62 years old, he still participates occasionally.
"I've been doing Highland Games for 15 years," he said. "I still compete, but a lot less. I like to organize."
Bowersox there will be competitors from downstate Michigan, Marquette, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Events for the games involve lifting and throwing heavy things, Bowersox said.
"It takes a year to become competitive," he said. "Muscle works, but you need technique."
Bowersox said even people not familiar with Highland Games know about the caber toss.
"It's the premier event of the day," he said.
The caber is a pole of cedar or pine 15 to 20 feet long. The athlete picks up the pole, and holding it in both hands at waist level, lifts and tosses it causing it to flip. The more straight up and down it lands, the better the score.
"That's a perfect landing," he said.
Each of the six "amateur" and seven "novice" participants will get three tosses each with their best toss counting as their final score. The novices use a shorter and lighter caber.
The athletes get three tosses each for the other events, Bowersox said, which include tossing 16-pound stones in shot put style, and another involves throwing a 22- to 30-pound stone over a horizontal bar above the head of the competitor.
"There's no forward movement," he said.
Another stone-throwing event is called weight for distance, Bowersox said, and that involves throwing either a 28- pound or 56-pound stone as far as possible.
Athletes also throw a "hammer," which is a 16-pound lead ball at the end of five-foot-long PVC handle.
Bowersox said the purpose of the Highland Games is to have fun, and although he's ethnic German, fun is what he has when he competes.
"I just love to throw things," he said.
Kurt Hauglie can be reached at khauglie @mininggazette.com.