DUNEDIN — In a letter dated Jan. 22, Eric MacNeill, president of the Dunedin Scottish Arts Foundation, announced the cancellation of the 2021 Dunedin Highland Games and Festival. The event had been tentatively scheduled for April.
The Dunedin Highland Games & Festival, which traditionally is presented in early spring, was also canceled last year due to COVID-19. The event is a fundraiser for the foundation, attracting athletes and spectators from the United States and abroad. Participants compete in a variety of Scottish heavy athletics, such as the caber toss, sheaf toss, hammer throw, stone throw and weight over bar.
“We had all hoped that by this time the restrictions on gatherings related to COVID-19 would be reducing,” MacNeill wrote in his letter. “Sadly, that is simply not yet the case. While we were so proud to be able to successfully present the Dunedin Celtic Music Festival on a restricted scale back in November 2020, the magnitude of the Dunedin Highland Games event we all love is not plausible with the restrictions currently in place.”
According to the DSAF, all registrations and pre-sales for the 2021 Highland Games will be automatically rolled forward to next year’s Dunedin Highland Games and Festival, set for April 2, 2022.
“The Dunedin Scottish Arts Foundation Board of Directors and entire Highland Games planning committee remain committed alongside our Dunedin community to presenting a wonderful Highland Games event in the future that is a celebration of our shared love for Scottish culture, music and heritage,” MacNeill added. “In the meantime, we are continuing to monitor COVID-19 developments as we plan for other events. Please follow us on Facebook and at www.dunedinscottishartsfoundation.com for developments and new information in the coming months.”
At a Feb. 2 City Commission meeting, Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski discussed the cancellation of the annual event.
"They are trying to figure out what's the next step," she said.
The games, hosted by the Dunedin Scottish Arts Foundation, helps support the Dunedin Highland Middle School Pipe Band, Dunedin Scottish Highlander High School Band, and the City of Dunedin Pipe Band. Though they aren't traveling much, the bands still have needs, Bujalski said.
"Instruments needs and kilt needs and all those kinds of things. As we move forward, I'll keep you all posted and work with them on that," she said.