Highland Games bring Celtic music, more to Canterbury Village

Stephanie Sokol for The Oakland Press

Take a journey to Scotland by heading out to Orion Township for the 20th annual Highland Games at Canterbury Olde World Village June 29-30.

Photo courtesy of Frank Dohanyos
Photo courtesy of Franklin Dohanyos

The family-friendly two-day Scottish celebration, presented by Ultimate Fun Productions and The Scottish American Society of Michigan, will be five times larger this year, said Franklin Dohanyos, games chairman for the event and founder of the society.

The new location, on a 5-acre lot adjacent to the village, yields more room for events, which include jousting, re-enactments and band performances.

FYI: The 20th annual Highland Games takes place from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, June 29, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, June 30 at Canterbury Olde World Village, 2369 Joslyn Ct. in Orion Township. Tickets, available at the event or at www.midwesthighlandgames.com, are $10 for adults, $7 for kids 6 to 11, and 5 and younger get in free. Partial proceeds generated by the Scottish American Society of Michigan Scottish Games will be donated to the SE MI chapter of Leader Dogs for the Blind. For more information about the games, visit www.scotsofmichigan.com or www.midwesthighlandgames.com.

The Scottish American Society of Michigan is a 501(c)(7) nonprofit group whose mission is to carry on Scottish tradition in a fun way. When the society took over the games in 2011, attendance grew from 400 guests to about 2,400.

Proceeds from the group’s events benefit charities, including the Rochester Boys and Girls Club, Leader Dogs for the Blind and Salvation Army.

People who attend the games can find out about their lineage, or just celebrate the culture itself. Dohanyos said his objective in forming the society was to keep the culture alive.

“Our goal is to preserve Scottish heritage in Michigan,” Dohanyos said. “To do that, we have to share our culture with the youth.”

During the games, Highland and Irish dancers will perform onstage, and pipe bands and Celtic groups will provide musical entertainment.

Local Celtic rock band Shamus Whiskey returns to the games this year. Band member Jeff Axelsen compared Celtic rock to country music, because of instrumentation and lyrical story.

The music gets a lot of audience response, Axelsen said.

“It’s all about seeing the bands, going to the games, having fun and hanging out,” he said. “Everyone’s really social and fun. For people who have never been to a Celtic festival, it’s worth the afternoon to go check it out.”

Photo courtesy of Franklin Dohanyos
Photo courtesy of Franklin Dohanyos

Scottish history re-enactments by the 42nd Highlanders Regiment, including musket shooting and an overnight campout, will also be part of the schedule.

While alcohol will be served, Dohanyos said the event is very family-friendly. Activities for children will be incorporated into the day, along with demonstrations and food.

“This is a place that you come with your family, learn about your family history, have fun, listen to the bands, go to the kids’ area, eat and have a good time,” Dohanyos said. “There’s something for everybody at the Highland Games.”

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