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The Keening of the Pipes, the Tapping Of the Drums and of Course the Haggis Toss


Things don’t always go the way you’d like them to but you can still find joy in them. Such was the case with last Sunday’s Round Hill Highland Games at Lime Rock Park in Lime Rock, Conn., which went from the early morning hours on June 26 until about 4 p.m., when the pipe band competition ended.

Some years there are numerous competitors in the piping and drumming department. Always there are magnificent tartan kilts and the hats that I’m certain have a special name, I just don’t know what it is.

I think the kilts are the most fetching on the very large men who are always there competing in different arenas; in the piping competition, you find the most impressive, what my late husband used to call Great Big Men. Apparently it takes a big man to hold and march with the massive pipe band drums.

It’s a shame that it’s never misty at Lime Rock when the pipe bands emerge from the wooded areas at the edge of the competition area.

The keening of the bagpipes and the steady rat-tat-tat of the drums is eerie and ghostly and gorgeous. Often the drummers do impressive twirls with their tasseled drum sticks.

At this point you are no doubt feeling regret that you didn’t attend the games, but don’t: This year there were odd supply chain interruptions of the sort that have made the COVID years so extra weird and challenging.

And thus it was that for the 2022 Round Hill Highland Games — a celebration of all things Scottish — there was a shortage of sheep stomachs and the classic dish haggis (made of oatmeal in sheep innards) could not be sampled by curious epicureans at the food truck.

Worse still, there was no haggis available for the competition known as the Haggis Toss. Sometimes pantyhose can be used to hold the oatmeal, one of the organizers said.

“But someone forgot to pick up the pantyhose,” he said, darting an accusing glance at one of his partner volunteers.

Not to worry, though; often the pantyhose haggis explode on landing, so maybe it was OK that this year competitors just tossed a heavy weight wrapped in duct tape.

There were also, to circle back around to the pipe and drum competition (have you figured out yet that this is my favorite part of the day?), only a couple of teams competing this year and none of the drummers was tassel tossing. Disappointing but we must always look to the future and the possibility of joy that is still to come.

There was also a shortage of big men tossing big telephone-sized wood poles into the air, because the top in the field were at a national strongman competition somewhere else in New England.

Often there is a lovely diversity of women of all cultures, backgrounds and ages trying their hand at throwing shot puts and lead weights on chains. There is often an impressive array of muscles and tattoos.

This year, there were fewer than a dozen.

But again, we look to next year, when the Round Hill Games will return to Lime Rock Park, with haggis and tassel twirling and perhaps a chance to remember the glories of the past and to imagine the beauty the future can still hold.

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