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Bigpipes, kilts and haggis: The 2011 Highland Games

by: Lauren Gold Jason Montgomery of Gresham competes in the light hammer event, one of eight at this year's Portland Highland Games in Gresham.

Scots and Scottish enthusiasts alike gathered Saturday, July 16, for the 59th annual Portland Highland Games at Mt. Hood Community College. The event featured pipe bands, Highland dancing and even a kilted mile race, as well as Scottish music, food and vendors.

Craig Cornett of Troutdale has attended the games since 1996, but he first participated in the kilted mile last year when a friend dared him.

'I had to take the challenge,' Cornett said.

The kilted mile is in its 21st year at the Portland games and is exactly what it sounds like: a mile-long track race in kilts.

'We're one of the only games that still does it,' said Bucky Beattie, chairwoman of the kilted mile and corporate secretary for the Highland Games.

Though he does not do much running outside of the games, Cornett said the kilted race turned out to be something he enjoys.

'I loved it,' he said.

And of course, there were the heavy athletics, including the infamous caber toss, the throwing of the Portland Stone and heavy weight for height, where competitors throw a 56-pound weight over a bar.

Jason Montgomery, of Gresham, is half Scottish and has competed in the games for four years, saying that it helps him connect to his heritage.

'There are a lot of things I learn just being here,' he said.

This year, there were eight different challenges in the heavy events competition, all of which the athletes must complete. Montgomery said that the games originated as a competition to find the best bodyguard for the Scottish king.

In addition to the games at Mt. Hood, many of the athletes compete in a number of others throughout the year. Montgomery said he went to 11 competitions last year, and he even has a sponsor.

But in the end, 'it's all for the love of it,' he said.

Photos from the 2011 Portland Highland Games are included in the Wednesday, July 20, issue of The Outlook.

Intern Lauren Gold can be reached by calling 503-492-5120 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..