PRESCOTT - Wind and kilts don't often go well together, though no one seemed to mind the occasional gusts that developed during the 9th annual Prescott Highland Games on Saturday.
Vendors selling Celtic knickknacks, kilts, traditional food, whiskey and more filled Watson Lake Park, home of the games, while genealogy tents and other informational booths answered questions on Celtic heritage and history. Bagpipes bands and the rugged highland games kept the crowd entertained throughout the 80 degree, but blustery, event.
Mathew McCorkle, who hails from the Gunn Clan, competed in each of the many apparatus categories for Saturday's games.
"You have the weight over bar, the weight for distance - heavy and light weight, which run about 56 pounds and around 42 for the light weight, weight over bar is 56 pounds as well, and you have the stone throws, standing shot put with a stone about 27 pounds and then you have the open stone where you're allowed to spin. There's also the hammer category, where you have a light weight and a heavy weight hammer, and you have the traditional caber toss," McCorkle said.
To prepare for the games, McCorkle said he does a lot of strength training near his home in Tempe, including dead lifts and squats. He also trains in the field with other pros, as he cannot practice his throwing in a gym. There he often videotapes his performance in order to see where he needs improvement.
"There's a lot of technique to it, but a lot of strength training as well. There's a lot to it and I'm one of the strongest guys here," he said. "Prescott's games are one of my favorite events. I took four years off and came back. This is my favorite and it's where I've done a lot of my personal bests. It's one of the most beautiful places, with the natural scenery as a backdrop. It's been an awesome event."
Jason Knox, Arizona commissioner with the Clan MacFarland Society, set up a Clan MacFarland tent at the games, as did a number of clan families. He said more and more clans attend the Prescott Highland Games each year.
"We work any of the different Scottish festivals in the Southwest," Knox said. "I do seven of these a year."
The tent for Clan MacFarland, like other clans at the games, served as both a home for wayward members of the MacFarland clan as well as an information booth for people who want to know a little more about their family history.
"We always have extra chairs. We represent our society and try to get new members, but essentially it's a hospitality tent," Knox said. "Clan MacFarland; we're cattle thieves. We're from the northwestern shore of Loch Lomond in Scotland. We've always been a rather small, warlike clan who usually run towards a fight rather than the other way around."
Knox is also a member of the Prescott Area Celtic Society, organizers for the Prescott Highland Games.
"It's a great venue. It's one of the more picturesque places that are around. We've got more clans this year. We've got better entertainment. The society meets once a month at Celtic Crossings Pub, the third Tuesday of every month at 5:30 p.m.," Knox said.