Highlanders Festival features Celtic fun and action

18HiFEst art-1

Musicians, artists, athletes and festival goers from across the region celebrated the Highlander tradition of merrymaking at the 22nd annual Radford Highlanders Festival in Bisset Park on Oct. 6.

A steady stream of guests enjoyed a full day, sampling pipe and drum and traditional music, Border Collie sheepherding exhibitions and competitions by athletes from across the Mid-Atlantic region. The Radford Highlanders Festival is a partnership between Radford University and the City of Radford.

“It is a great way to celebrate the Celtic culture and share it,” said David Bailey, manager of systems administration and services at Radford University, as he escorted his four grandchildren around the festival grounds.

Nicole Koob, a senior from Manassas, was part of a team of Recreation, Parks and Tourism students who helped the organizing committee by surveying festival-goers.

“The festival is considered such a tradition. I talked to folks from all over the area who said how much they look forward to coming to the festival each year,” Koob said. “This is my first visit and there is so much going on.” 

18 Hi Fest action -Matt Hall '03
Matt Hall '03 makes a toss during the 2018 Raisbeck Memorial Games Open Stone competition.

Central to the festival are the Tom Raisbeck Memorial Scottish Athletic Games which featured more than 30 men and women competing in the caber toss, hammer throw, sheaf toss and weight events. The 2018 All-Around Champions were:

  • Women’s: Emily Adams, Huntington, West Virginia
  • Men’s B: Jeremy Futrell, Roanoke
  • Men’s A:  Jonathan Harding, Pulaski
  • Master’s: Trevor MacMurray, Bristol

“This was another personal best for me,” said Harding, winner of the last three Men’s A classes at Radford and a top 10-ranked North American Scottish Games Association amateur.  “When I first came here three years ago, I threw the light hammer 99 feet.  Today I got 99 feet with the heavy hammer, so I am making progress.”

The games also featured a performance by adaptive athlete Matt Hall ’03 who returned to Radford from Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he was attempting to qualify for the United States Paralympic Team as a Scottish Games athlete.

“Radford is a family tradition for me. My mom, my dad and my wife all went to Radford, so it has been fun to come back again,” Hall said.

Walk to Freedom Cast at 18 HiFest

Members of the Porterfield Ensemble, who presented an excerpt from, “Walk to Freedom: The Mary Draper Ingles Story.”

The Community Stage also featured a performance by the Porterfield Ensemble of an excerpt from, “Walk to Freedom: The Mary Draper Ingles Story,” that has been touring this fall.  “Walk to Freedom,” starring Assistant Professor of Theatre Robyn Berg and Assistant Professor of Theatre Molly Hood and directed by Professor of Theatre Wesley Young, will play in Pridemore Playhouse on Dec. 7 – 8.

During the Radford Highlanders Festival massed band performance, the Radford University Highlanders Pipe and Drum Band, directed by Associate Professor of Music Tim Channell, performed along with two other regional pipe and drum bands – the Appalachian Highlanders Pipe and Drum Band and the Virginia Highlands Pipe and Drum Band.

“It is a great day and a great collaboration,” said Rob Gropman of the festival organizing committee and a member of the Radford City Council. “The community really came together to host a festival that brings so many people to town.”


Oct 12, 2018
Don Bowman
(540) 831-5182