Scotchtober Fest

Kaber Toss

New Hampshire’s Highland Games are back where they belong in Lincoln NH. Fittingly for the Highlands theme, the weather Saturday was cold and misty, with fogs rolling over the hills. I half expected Lorna Doone herself to appear.

The games, of course, are “Scottish Heavy Athletics” involving the throwing (though sometimes carrying) of just about anything that can be found. Rocks… hammers… sheep… trees, they all count. Well, the “sheep toss” is actually the “sheaf toss” and is intended to measure an athlete’s ability to toss hay to the top of the pile. But can I be blamed for preferring to imagine it as the sheep toss and encouraging the audience to bleat “bahhh” with every throw. Surely you can’t blame me for explaining to the kids in the audience that the games come from the ancient practice of tossing sheep over the king’s bed so that he may count his way to restful sleep?

The big event of the games, however, is the kaber toss. A kaber can measure from 16 to 20 feet long and weigh 80 to 130 pounds. A birch tree fits the bill quite well, though this year’s kaber appeared to have been manufactured.

Sheep dog trials, dancing, piping, fiddling, and a visit to the sword tent all round out the day.