Saint Patrick’s Day is still nearly seven months away but Iowans with Irish roots are congregating in Davenport today for the Celtic-Highland Games of the Quad Cities. Event director Lisa Lockheart says one popular feature of the day-long celebration at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds is the so-called Games of Strength, where burly men in kilts showcase their plentiful brawn.
Lockheart says there’s a wide variety of field-type throwing events, including the caber toss. That involves the vertical hurling of a 12-to-20-foot-long pole, resembling a phone pole, which weighs 100 to 125-pounds or more. Other elements of the games of strength include throwing stone hammers, shot-putting large rocks or using a pitch fork to chuck a big bag of beans over a set of goal posts. She says the events also include competitions by about a dozen bagpipe bands.
The bagpipers come from a four or five-state area. Lockheart says, "At the end of the day, they play as one in a mass band and that will really make the hair rise up on the back of your neck when you hear this great wall of sound." Some 60 Highland dancers will also be performing, in addition to a host of authentic food, Celtic crafts and cultural workshops.