Low times for Highland Games
By NATHAN WHALEN
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
April 24, 2009 · 2:26 PM
After seeing a drop in attendance and losing money last year, organizers for an event celebrating Scottish culture are struggling to put on their event this year.
The Highland Games, boasting such events as the caber toss, stone throw and highland dancers, has been an annual Greenbank fixture for the past 10 years.
However, several factors last year reduced attendance and put a financial dent in the games.
“We, financially, didn’t do as well last year,” said Ann Christensen, one of the organizers.
She said that high gas prices and the rainy weather probably reduced attendance. In addition, she said there was probably a residual fear among people from the pertussis scare that plagued the south end of the island last summer.
The Highland Games lost $3,500 last year.
She approached the commissioners for the Port of Coupeville during their monthly meeting last week, asking for any financial assistance but the port wasn’t able to provide any.
Commissioner Marshall Bronson said the port doesn’t have any excess funds and can’t see making any endowments.
Insurance problems also cost event organizers. Despite never having any claims in the past 10 years, the Highland Games’ insurance carrier cancelled its policy this year, saying the event was too high a risk, Christensen said. The Highland Games did find another insurance carrier, however, the premium skyrocketed from $300 to $1,800.
Christensen said there are about a dozen volunteers working to put on the highest quality event possible. She said having volunteers switch gears to a fundraising mode would hamper their ability to hold the event.
There will be one change to this year’s event. It will take place Saturday, Aug. 8, which is the weekend after the Coupeville Arts and Crafts Festival. In previous years, the Highland Games took place the same weekend as the Arts and Crafts Festival.
She said she is looking for volunteers to help organize the event. Volunteers meet the second and fourth Wednesday’s of the month at Neil’s Clover Patch Cafe, 14485 Highway 525 in Langley. For more information or to make a donation, call Christensen at 360-341-2119.Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Nathan Whalen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-675-6611 ext. 5058.