Kilts & Cabers: Ventura Seaside Highland Games

Impressive athletics and stirring bagpipes are two favorites of this annual gathering.

MONDO GATHERING: California happens to be home to many fine Scottish celebrations and games. The Queen Mary in Long Beach annually hosts a shindig, and spots up and down the coast make room each year for strong people to toss cabers and throw stones. One of the largest of the parties -- three days large, in fact -- is the Seaside Games in Ventura each fall. The heavy athletics are a major draw, yes, as is the Children's Glen and Harp Glen (picture a lot of harps all together at once -- nice).

DATES AND DETAILS: This year's games are set to go down -- or up, since the athletics very often involve the pitching of objects upwards -- from Friday, Oct. 11 through Sunday, Oct. 13 at the Ventura County Fairgrounds. Admission for a single day is sixteen bucks.

OFF THE ATHLETIC FIELD: As mentioned, the Children's Glen -- where tykes can try their hand at smaller, lighter versions of the grown-up throwing games -- and the Harp Glen are favorites, as are darts, dancing, and the fiddle competition.

ON THE ATHLETIC FIELD: Scottish games go back a millenium or so, give or take, meaning that the business of throwing stones is a serious one. Training is intense, long, and consistent -- once you see a 20-foot caber get tossed, the training becomes perfectly clear -- and the athletes are at top performance. If you've never been in-person for this hallowed, strength-backed spectacle, change that.

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