Hurricane Matthew brings a touch of Scotland to 20th annual Highlanders Festival

Radford University President Brian O. Hemphill (center) is flanked by Festival MC David Horton (right) and Radford Mayor Bruce Brown (left) at the opening of the 20th Annual Radford Highlanders Festival in Bisset Park.

Musicians, athletes and festival goers shrugged off Hurricane Matthew’s bluster to celebrate the Highlander tradition of merrymaking at the 20th annual Radford Highlanders Festival in Bisset Park on Oct. 8.

The day dawned drizzly, but a steady stream of guests sampled a full day’s worth of pipe and drum and traditional music, Border collie sheepherding exhibitions and traditional Scottish games competitions by athletes from across the Mid-Atlantic region. The Radford Highlanders Festival is a partnership between Radford University and the city of Radford.

Alex "the Tank" Armor, the Raisbeck Memorial Games' first parachair adaptive athlete, tosses the sheaf.

“I have been to 26 games this year and this event easily ranks in the top five. It is a nice balance of festival and games,” said Alex Armor of Johnson City, Tennessee. Armor became the Radford Festival’s first parachair adaptive Highland Games athlete and joined almost 30 other men and women to compete in the Tom Raisbeck Memorial Games’ caber toss, hammer throw and weight events.

Armor, who competed in all nine of the games’ events, is a champion of opportunity for adaptive athletics. He is the founder of an organization to provide access, community education and veteran outreach, called the Gimp Style Foundation.

The Raisbeck Memorial Games featured its largest field ever and champions were crowned in four classes. The 2016 All-Around Champions were:

  • Women’s: Libby Wiener, Roanoke
  • Men’s B: Tim Einstein, Blacksburg
  • Men’s A:  Jonathan Harding, Pulaski
  • Master’s: Kevin Miller, Aiken, South Carolina

“This was a personal best for me,” said Harding, a graduate student in English at Virginia Tech. “It was a long day and a great event filled with highlights.”

During the Radford Highlanders Festival massed band performance, the Radford University Pipe and Drum Band performed along with two other regional pipe and drum bands.

On the festival’s main stage in the Bisset Park Gazebo, No Strings Attached and Second Wynde each performed. On the Community Stage, located at shelter 1, performances by a variety of performers, including American Roots, PanJammers, Central Fine Arts Academy and Radford Improv Club’s Pridemore Playtime Players, were featured.

Radford University President Brian O. Hemphill joined Mayor Bruce Brown to open the annual festival. The Appalachian Pipe and Drum Band, the Radford Pipe and Drum Band and the Virginia Highlands Pipe and Drum Band then led a march by the assembled Scottish clans, athletes and cadets of the Radford detachment of the U.S. Army R.O.T.C. that was capped by a massed band performance. 

“Heartiness was truly on display this weekend,” said Jenni Wilder of the festival organizing committee. “The community really came together to host a festival that highlights the cooperation and enjoyment that are traditional to Radford.”

Oct 11, 2016
Don Bowman
(540) 831-7523