• Rob Hornberger

Kingsville Highland Games expected to draw large crowds after two-year COVID hiatus

Pipe bands, the caber toss, sheep herding demonstrations and an evening concert are among the events returning to Lakeside Park

Pipe bands march through Lakeside Park during the 2019 Kingsville Highland Games. The games return Saturday with organizers expecting pent-up demand to boost ticket sales.

KINGSVILLE — The skirl of bagpipes returns to Lakeside Park this Saturday with the long-awaited return of the Kingsville Highland Games.

As a result of the two-year absence because of COVID-19 restrictions, there has been pent-up demand for tickets and organizers are seeing signs the event will have a larger crowd than in 2019 when it attracted 6,500 visitors.

Advance tickets sales for the one-day event have surpassed expectations.

“We were sending out tickets like crazy,” said organizer Doug Plumb. “We have a lot of tickets out there that have been sold.”

He said charter bus companies from Windsor and London have notified organizers they will be making trips to Kingsville.

This year’s event will have at least 10 pipe bands from Southwestern Ontario and possibly Michigan, Highland dancing, Scottish sporting events like the caber toss, tug-of-war contests, sheep herding, Scottish-themed interactive activities for children and a five-km kilt run.

There will also be a haggis toss featuring local politicians.

Because of space limitations and the fact the games are a one-day event, many of the events will be held simultaneously.

“It (will be) a three-ring circus down there,” Plumb predicted.

In the evening there will be two Celtic-style bands — the Mudmen, from Petrolia, and the Steel City Rovers, from Hamilton.

“The Mudmen have performed for the Queen … they are just phenomenal. They almost have a cult-like following. The Steel City Rovers, they do the same sort of thing. They’re more East Coast with pipes and drums,” Plumb said.

There will be food vendors and a beer tent featuring Kingsville’s three downtown breweries.

To avoid parking issues, shuttle buses will run between downtown and the park until 5 p.m.

Tickets are $20 per adult with children under 14 admitted free.

Plumb said the games organizers wanted a pricing system to encourage young families to attend the Saturday event.

The games will start at roughly 8:30 a.m. and end at 1 a.m.

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