Bellingham Highland Games - June 2, 2001
Or - Bob's excellent afternoon adventure:
Not only did the band contests live up to my expectations (both memorable and enjoyable), the afternoon weather was quite 'complete' (?) too. A little bit of everything.. cold, wet, rain, sun, warm, cloudy, breezy..
An early afternoon photo (actually two of them spliced together), looking into the field where the pipe band competition will take place.
Hovander Homestead Park is one of the most beautiful imaginable venues for a piping competition. A large flat grass field, surrounded by trees, with the Nooksack River on one side (to the left, behind the trees in this photo) and a small forest on the other side in which every band found shelter - It was a bit crowded, but heck, there were 22 bands!
Immediately behind the photographer (that was me.. I did a little 'walking'), in the photo above, was the scoring, information, and trophy areas, and then another large field behind them.
The piping trophy table: in the photo to the right you can see the smaller 'keeper' trophies on the RH side, and the larger perpetual trophies of the Bellingham games (they are perpetually kept by the games organizers too). Reading the names on the previous winners of these awards gives one a small history of piping excellence in the Pacific Northwest.
Each year the Bellingham Games play host to an inspiring number of kids / juvenile pipe bands (7 again(!) this year). Observers must get great warm fuzzy feelings for the future of piping in the Pacific Northwest - IMO.
The first band out for competition this day was the Robert Malcolm Memorial PB Grade 4 'B'. This beginner band does not actually have a drum corps, so they 'borrowed' a few drummers - from the SFU Grade 1 PB! They were not really competing, just playing for judges comments, and the experience.
Imagine how great this must be - debut performance on the field, and your drummers include J. Reid Maxwell, SFUPB Bass Drummer Katherine Tawse, and a few other SFUPB side drummers! It certainly seemed that everyone had great fun. Notice that a few of the pipers (there were about 20(?) of them) are not much taller than an extended bass drone...
As the Band competition progressed, we had a chance to experience nearly all the weather the Pacific Northwest has to offer in June: Cold, wet, breezy, cloudy, and then , as a change of pace... a little rain..
In the photo to the right you can see a portion of the crowd surrounding the band competition. A few things to point out here:
A) There is great support from the community - This was an impressively large crowd, even considering the weather which was expected to be 'poor'.
2) We (the spectators) were prepared.. when it rained, out came the rain capes, and umbrellas, we had coats for the cold, and we removed layers and layers as the weather improved - all the way down to shirts sleeves as the day progressed.
iii) By the time the Grade 3 contest had started, we were enjoying sunny skies. And many of us somewhat casually noted the bald eagles that were circling in thermals (rising columns of warm air) slowly drifting overhead. Yes indeed, a three Bald Eagles came to watch and listen for a while too.. (Only in the Pacific Northwest I think)
OK - ready for a short quiz? Cotton floating in the air at the
Bellingham Games means:
Answer: 5 - all of the above...
Grade 1 bands? Once again we had 3 - From the San Francisco Bay Area, came the 2000 Grade 2 World Champions, now upgraded to Grade 1 - The Prince Charles PB (in the photo to the left); finishing second for the day was the Alberta Caledonia PB; and winning the day in Grade 1 was the Simon Fraser University PB (they're pretty good).
As you would hope and expect, the Grade 1 band contests were a great show; all three bands competed first in the MSR, then they came back for a Medley contest.
I have settled into a wonderful 'rut' at our games... I park myself in
the band competition area, and listen.. to every band.. Great fun! To hear the
progression; new bands, getting better each time (like the Fraser Valley Youth PB) - great
performances by 'old timers' (like the White Spot Juvenile PB - the winners in G4),
and the progression of skill (and this time, the weather) as the different PB Grades
What a day!
Oops.. I got carried away with words... Now, on to the RESULTS:
Many thanks (again) to Rob MacNeil for sending these results to me
Return to the Western Piping News Home Page
After writing all these words, I'm curious... Visits since June 3, 2001