FERGUS — Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games has been forced to scale back its presentation, but with creativity and continued support, organizers say the festival is doing well.
“We’ve tried to do as much as we can within the confines of COVID, but it’s another virtual event essentially,” said David Radley, President of the Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games.
The festival was held virtually in 2020. This year, some competitions like the heavy throwing events are still happening ahead of the official festival dates, but the majority of the activities are not.
Organizers have put together a box of festival-themed items for people to purchase and will hold a virtual gala on August 12. They are also filming the events that are happening and offering a virtual version of the festival from August 13-15.
“It’s still been nice to see that we’ve still been able to put something out there for the public so that they still remember that the festival is taking place,” said Tammy Park, a volunteer with the festival.
Despite not having it’s regular entertainment, Radley said the festival is doing well financially. He credits the continued sponsorships and strong support from the community.
“We’ve got a much younger and more enthusiastic demographic in the volunteers,” said Radley.
Before the pandemic, Radley said the festival welcomed 22,000 visitors over the three days it runs, along with 250 volunteers.
“Streets crowded, cars everywhere, you could hear the bagpipes across the river,” said Park.
Radley hopes next year the festival can once again return to it’s normal program.
“We’re just praying that we can do a live event. Virtual events are fine, but we don’t like that, we want to do the hands-on stuff,” Radley said.