UTICA NY    The Great American Irish Festival is pleased to announce the return of the NEW YORK STATE highland Games Championships.

Chuck Livingston, competitor and host of these games via the Buffalo Heavies, reports “We have many outstanding athletes performing this tear as in last year’s tremendous success.  Returning are all top 10 world championship competitors, including:

  • Tim  Mullaly, one of the top masters athletes in the country  returning from the US nationals #6.
  • Courtney McGuire,  currently #2 in the world and # 2 at this years nationals.
  • Chris Sickler, Local Lad…placed in top 10 at this years lightweight nationals.
  • Kathryn Kendall, currently #4 in the world and #3 at the nationals this year.
  • John Jans,  #2 at US national and probable world champion this year.
  • Jen Taylor, US Champion.
  • Terri James, multiple times world Champion and holder of at least 9 world records.
  • Mike Watson, currently # 8 in US,  qualified for world championships.
  • Paul Helfinstein, currently# 10 in US.
  • Chuck Livingston, 9 time word competitor  holds senior masters world sheaf record currently # 6 in world, placed 6th at US championships in May this year.

These are all  masters athletes!!!!   40 years old or more…We host 4 of the top senior masters in the country…….   we have as well some of the top and up coming amateurs in the area as well Nick Kahanick, former world amateur champion and world record holder, and also performing will be Matt Hand, one the top upcoming professionals in the area.”


But it’s not all fun and games.  In addition, there will a traditional Celtic hand fasting wedding ceremony.   Chuck Livingston, competitor and host of these games,  will be marrying Ms Davina Roos.   This will be at ~1:30 PM on Saturday.

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As part of the Great American Irish Festival, cheer for the burliest of world-class athletes as they compete in traditional Highland Games and heavy athletics. Games include a crowd favorite, the 175-pound caber toss, in which athletes compete to flip a 19-foot log end over end. Come cheer on six classes of athletes: Open Men, Open Women, Masters Men, Masters Women, Senior Masters and Light Weights. Make plans to attend the competition on Saturday from 10 AM to 4:30 PM.

Here are a few of the events you’re likely to see: 

Caber Toss

The Caber Toss is a traditional Celtic athletic event in which competitors toss a large, tapered pole called a ‘Caber.’ The pole ranges in length from 16 – 22 feet and in weight from 70 – 180 pounds! The primary objective is to toss the caber so that it turns end over end, falling away from the tosser. Ideally, it should call directly away from the toss in the 12 o’clock position. The distance thrown is unimportant.

Sheaf Toss

The sheaf toss is a traditional Celtic agricultural sport event originally contested at county fairs. A pitchfork is used to hurl a burlap bag stuffed with straw over a horizontal bar above the competitor’s head. Typical weight for the bag is 10 pounds for women and 20 pounds for men. Three chances are given to each competitor to cleanly go over the bar, without touching it. After all challengers have made their attempts, the bar is raised and all successful competitors move on to the new height. This continues until all but one athlete is eliminated.

Stone Put

The stone put is similar to the modern-day shot put using a large stone. There are two versions of the stone toss events, differing in allowable technique. The “Braemar Stone” uses a 20–26 lb stone for men (13–18 lb for women) and does not allow any run up to the toeboard, it is a standing put. In the “Open Stone” using a 16–22 lb stone for men (or 8–12 lb for women), the thrower is allowed to use any throwing style so long as the stone is put with one hand with the stone resting cradled in the neck until the moment of release.

Weight Throw

The weight throw, is a traditional Celtic athletic event. There are actually two separate events, one using a light weight of 28 pounds for men and 14 pounds for women and the other using a heavy weight of 56 pounds for men and 28 pounds for women. Competitors will attempt to heave the stones as far as they can using any technique they choose. Three chances are given to each competitor. The longest throw wins.

Weight over the bar

Weight over the bar is also known as weight for height. The athletes attempt to toss a 56-pound weight with an attached handle over a horizontal bar using only one hand. Each athlete is allowed three attempts at each height. Successful clearance of the height allows the athlete to advance into the next round at a greater height. The competition is determined by the highest successful toss with fewest misses being used to break tie scores,

Scottish Hammer Throw

In the Scottish Hammer Throw, a round metal ball (weighing 16 or 22 lb for men or 12 or 16 lb for women) is attached to the end of a shaft about 4 feet in length and made out of wood, bamboo, rattan, or plastic. With the feet in a fixed position, the hammer is whirled about one’s head and thrown for distance over the shoulder. Hammer throwers sometimes employ specially designed footwear with flat blades to dig into the turf to maintain their balance and resist the centrifugal forces of the implement as it is whirled about the head. This substantially increases the distance attainable in the throw.

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