Caledonian Games planned July 13-14 in Athena, Ore.

Dori O'Neal, Tri-City HeraldJuly 2, 2013 

ATHENA, Ore. — It was 1899 when the Caledonian Games first left a footprint in Athena, Ore.

Farmers took a break from the fields and gathered in the tiny town near Pendleton for a day of Scottish music, good food and catching up with friends.

The games are still going strong 114 years later with a celebration planned for July 13-14. More than 4,000 people are expected to attend, said Sue Friese, chairwoman for the event.

The games were discontinued when World War I broke out in 1914 but were reinstated in 1976.

"We can't say (the festival) has been continuous, nor the oldest games in the Pacific Northwest," Friese said. "But people still gather today and come for the music and visiting with friends."

The fun starts with a parade at 9 a.m. on Main Street, followed by bagpipe competitions; Scottish athletic contests like hay bale tossing; performances by the Knights of Veritas, who will give visitors a taste of medieval Scotland; a horseshoe tournament, sheep dog trials, kids' games and plenty of crafts and food booths.

"People from around the Northwest come to Athena because they love Athena," Friese said. "The city park is shaded and cool, and we invite folks to come and learn more about its history."

Friese also encourages visitors to wear plaid and "haste ye back," (return soon) because "it's Scot to be Athena," she said in a Scottish brogue.

Friese said there will be plenty of Scottish folks to explain the brogue pronunciations.

Headline entertainment includes western singer Barbara Nelson, Anna and Jesse Burgess on Celtic fiddler and guitar and Janet Naylor on Celtic harp.

There is no admission to the event, which takes place at City Park on Third Street. Athena is a stone's throw off Highway 11 in Oregon.

-- Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; doneal@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @dorioneal

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