Piping up for the Highland Games

"Pipe bands from far and wide will step out at the Highland Games on Saturday at Greenbank Farm. And six Whidbey Island youngsters will be in the ranks of one of those bands, playing drums and bagpipes as if they'd been born wearing kilts. They helped their band to win the Washington State grade four championship in July, and they'll be hoping to bring home more prizes on Saturday.But most of all, they play for the love of it and for the friends and family fun involved in following the games that take place from Alaska to Enumclaw each summer.The MacGregor pipe band is new and this will be its first appearance at the Greenbank games. It got started in 1997, says band president Ian Tully, of Coupeville, who plays the bagpipes, along with his son, Sean. His daughter, Kristen, is a drummer. With other Whidbey members, they travel to Mount Vernon at least once a week to practice with instructors who travel from Canada. It's something that kids and families can do together and it's not uncool, said Alana Hutchinson, whose husband, Steve, and children Shannon and Chris all play drums.The Keyes family is also well-represented with Shawna on drums and Noel on bagpipes.All the children started the band without knowing anything about pipes and drums, although some had competed as Highland dancers, Tully said. And they are taking prizes now.Saturday will be a busy day at Greenbank Farm, said games organizer Mary Chapman of the Whidbey Island Celtic Society. There will be solo piping and drumming competitions, Highland dancing competition, and, she's hoping, five or six pipe bands.Heavy field athletics, like tossing the caber, will go on all day, and so will dog agility trials over a set obstacle course. Spinners and weavers will demonstrate their arts, shaggy Highland cows and Galloway belted cows will be on show, there will be Celtic entertainment all day, with Gaelic singers, Irish step dancers, Skagit fiddle players and country dancers. Last year was the first time Highland games had been held on Whidbey. Those games, also organized by the Whidbey Island Celtic Society, attracted a crowd of 3,500. For information, call 679-4418 or (360) 321-6434. E-mail ----------------------Where and when Pipe bands, Highland dancers, Scots athletic trials, a dog agility course and all-day Celtic music are on the program for the Highland Games at Greenbank on Saturday, Aug. 12 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at Greenbank Farm. The competitions begin at 9 a.m. Massed bands will play at 12:30 p.m. and again at 4:30 p.m. after which the winners will be announced. "

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