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13 ON YOUR SIDE Mornings team tries Highland Games ahead of Holland's Celtic Festival

The 13 ON YOUR SIDE Mornings team was coached on a few “ancient athletic games,” including the sheaf toss, hammer throw and caber toss!

HOLLAND, Michigan — Holland is gearing up for its first ever Celtic Festival! The unique event, hosted by the Holland Celtic Society, will involve live music, food and many vendors, plus an ancient athletic competition known as the Highland Games.

“This is a crazy venture for us,” said co-director Craig Rich. “It was concocted during COVID when there was nothing to do in town, so we thought we should give our citizens something exciting to do. So we came up with this festival.”

“A lot of people right now are into CrossFit and the HIIT workouts. Honestly, this is the ultimate functional fitness. It goes back hundreds of years," Eric Montambo said. “You're talking the first farmer in the field who has another farmer with him and says ‘Hey, I can throw that rock farther than you.’ That's how far it goes back.”

Montambo is one of the athletes competing in the Highland Games, and he coached our morning team as we attempted some of the events.

Emily Scarlett did the sheaf toss, where a pitchfork is used to hurl a straw-stuffed burlap sack over a horizontal bar. Meredith TerHaar did the hammer throw, where a long-handled hammer is whirled around then thrown across a field. Sam Jacques did the stone throw, where a 13-pound stone is thrown from a designated area. And I did the caber toss, where a log measuring 20 feet in length is hoisted into the air then flipped over. 

None of us were particularly good at these events, but we certainly enjoyed giving them a try!

The Celtic Festival kicks off Friday evening at Window on the Waterfront Park. The Highland Games, which require participants to wear a kilt, will start at 9:30 a.m. Saturday. For more information, including ticket pricing and a full lineup of events, click here.

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