The sounds of bagpipes and bodhran will echo through Idlewild Park this weekend as the 61st Ligonier Highland Games will celebrate all things Scottish at the park on Saturday and Sunday.

According to event organizers, more than 7,000 people attend the annual gathering of the clans and fans of all things Celtic. 

“It brings a little bit of Scotland to Pennsylvania,” said Rick Wonderly, Ligonier Highland Games executive director. “We’ve even had people from Scotland that come to the games, and it reminds them so much of back home.

“We had the actual Lorde Lyon, of Scotland, in 2010, come here, and he was just blown away at how much it resembled the town that he’s actually from.”

The annual Ligonier Highland Games promote and preserve the cultural, musical and athletic traditions of the Scots – one of the major immigrant groups to make its way to southwestern Pennsylvania.

The Games encourage athletes, musicians, and dancers to share their crafts with the public.

Those who attend the event will have a chance to watch professional and amateur athletes take their turns at the caber toss, the sheaf toss, and hammer throw; and experience a living history demonstration of the Scottish military, Scottish breed dog exhibits, and the tradition of Gaelic Mod – a competition involving Gaelic prose, poetry and song.

On both Saturday and Sunday, there will be four stages with continuous musical performances from national recording artists and regional Celtic performers, Pittsburgh’s Scottish Dancers, and a master Scottish fiddler.

Several vendors will also be on-hand for the event to offer a selection of Celtic wares, including Celtic music and musical instruments, jewelry, kilts and food.

More than 30 clans will host tents to provide information on the history of each family group, Wonderly said. Attendees will also see demonstrations of crafts, storytelling, and cooking demonstrations scattered throughout the park.

New for this year, Idlewild Park will have a number of rides open during the weekend. Rides include the Ferris Wheel, Balloon Race, Roundup and Loyalhanna Limited Railroad.

The park will offer all-day ride passes for $5 at the gate.

Event ticket sales will support the scholarship funds of the Clan Donald Educational and Charitable Trust, which was created to foster and improve the relationship between Scotland and the United States.

Each year, the trust offers a $5,000 scholarship for graduate study at a Scottish university of the applicant’s choice.

The price of admission for the weekend ranges from free for children ages 10 and younger, to $20 for adults 18 to 54.

For more information on the Ligonier Highland Games, visit www.ligonierhighlandgames.org.

Ronald Fisher is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @FisherSince_82.

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