Because I have 2 hobbies, one usually takes a back seat when the other is in full swing. Ham Radio is currently sitting in the back...until Monday, that is. Bag piping in a band is a summer thing for sure and amateur radio, for me, has been a winter thing for some time now. I used to operate from parks and camp sites in the summer before piping came along but things change. Yesterday the Glengarry Highland Games were held. They have been going for the past 70 years in Maxville, Ontario. It is the home of the North American Pipe Band Championships. It is the competition we all work towards shy of going to the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow. Going to the World's is a dream of mine and some day I'll go...if not with a band I'll go as a spectator. That is the Shangri-La of pipe band competitions. It's where you see all the top bands and piping icons. It's where you put everything on the line and hope that you are lucky enough to hear your Band's name called out in the results. That means you got top 6 in your grade. Dare to dream. Anyway, back to Maxville. This year our band has been playing better. It's our 4th year together and we have ages ranging from 12 to 55. We are the lowest grade (5) and hoping to earn our way to the next level. In early July we took a band trip to PEI for a week at the College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts to work on our medley and individual play. A week of practicing 4 hours together every day builds confidence, ensemble and camaraderie. At the end of that week we went to Antigonish, Nova Scotia for the Antigonish Highland Games including the Atlantic Canada Pipe Band Championships. We were fortunate enough to take first place (by the slimmest of margins) in that event for our grade. We are definitely having our best year so far. Yesterday's competition in Maxville was the culmination of our efforts which began last fall. We had one of our best plays and came 1 point shy of finishing first overall for out grade. Second place is a great accomplishment for us but it's frustrating to know how close we came to winning.
There is another Highland Games this weekend that we will be heading to this morning in Montreal. The Montreal Highland Games is a bit more relaxed affair but just as invigorating and with the stress of yesterday over we can have more fun. It's definitely a fun games and we spend a good bit of time in the beer tent telling stories and enjoying good company with other bands and listening to great Celtic music. We hope for a good result today and that is our prime goal but we also plan to have a lot of fun.