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Dropping the hammer

Celtic culture celebrated at Highland Games

September 17, 2012
The Daily Mining Gazette

HANCOCK - Mike and Elaine Loughead have ancestral connections to Glasgow, Scotland, but they didn't realize that until they met in Michigan.

Elaine said she is a first-generation American.

"My father (emigrated) from Scotland," she said.

Article Photos

Kurt Hauglie/Daily Mining Gazette
Phil Johnson of Houghton gets into position for the 16-pound stone put during the Copper Hammer Highland Games Saturday at the Houghton County Fairgrounds in Hancock.

The Loughheads, who live in Jacobsville, were attending the third annual Celtic Festival and Copper Hammer Highland Games Saturday at the Houghton County fairgrounds in Hancock.

It was their first time attending the Copper Hammer, but Elaine said in the past they attended Highland games in Alma, Mich., and Inverness, Scotland.

Mike said he once considered taking part in a Highland games event, but never did.

"I thought about it when I was younger," he said. "I was always too busy."

Brian Bixley, Celtic Quarter executive board chairman and festival coordinator, said although attendance was light early Saturday, he expected it would pick up later in the day.

The Celtic Quarter is a nonprofit organization created to share and promote Celtic heritage.

The number of participants in the games was down from the 20 they had last year to nine for Saturday.

"It's better than we expected," he said.

It was originally thought there would be only three participants, Bixley said, but even if there weren't any participants, they would have gone on with the festival anyway.

The number of vendors was up from last year, Bixley said.

One of those vendors was Sidney Butler, who had some of her stained glass art on display. Butler also played harp during the musical gathering called a ceilidh featuring local musicians Friday night.

Butler, who owns Cabin Fever Arts in Calumet, said she enjoyed participating in the event, especially last year.

"Last year was very nice," she said. "It was worth being here."

One of the participants in the games was Phil Johnson of Houghton, who said he participated last year, also.

Johnson said he was able to connect with the stone throw competition because of a history of participating in field events.

"I have shot-put and discus background," he said. "This is up my alley."

Celtic Quarter member Dale Vadnais of Atlantic Mine also participated in the games, partly because of a cultural connection.

"I'm a quarter Irish," he said.

The hammer toss is one of his favorite events, Vadnais said, but he also likes the caber toss.

"I like to tell people I can flip a 19-foot log," he said.



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