The skirl of the bagpipes livened up Midsummer holiday weekend in Loviisa, as enthusiasts of Scottish culture and sports gathered to celebrate a traditional Highland Games.
The annual event was a showcase for some of Finland’s strongest athletes who chucked, hoisted and hefted a variety of heavy objects in front of a small but enthusiastic crowd of spectators.
“Highland Games is wearing a kilt and throwing heavy stuff either long distances or very high” explains Arto Karppinen, one of the competitors.
Each of the athletes must compete in five different events: weight throwing for distance and height; hammer throwing, stoneput – like a shotput, but using a large stone instead; and tossing the caber.
In Scotland, tossing the caber involves carrying a large lot and flipping it over. In Finland it’s been adapted to use a Finnish birch tree log instead.
“I do basic weightlifting for getting strong, and then I just train the weights” says 34-year old Karppinen from Hämmenlinna who has a few cabers of his own at home to practice with.
The athletes – all from Finland – wore kilts during the sports events, but unlike true Scotsman they had been instructed to wear underwear as the Highland Games is a family event.
Although Karppinen has never visited Scotland he plans to go next summer with family and friends, and visit a real Highland Games.
In addition to the sports events, the Loviisa Highland Games also features a troupe of Scottish country dance enthusiasts who traveled from St. Petersburg; and members of the Helsinki Pipes and Drums pipe band.