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‚ÄčKincardine Scottish Festival carries on despite fire emergency interruption

July 8, 2024

The Kincardine Scottish Festival and Highland Games managed to continue on, despite the fire emergency right across the street, on Durham Market South, Saturday morning.

Fortunately, the only casualty was the Clan Parade which had to be cancelled as the streets were barricaded and Victoria Park was closed while firefighters battled the blaze.

The morning began with the solo piping and drumming competitions. Some participants and spectators chose to wear masks because the heavy smoke from the fire was drifting across Victoria Park, the streets and the adjacent parking lot where the pipers and drummers were practising and competing.

Festival president Tony Doherty said the organizers first heard about the fire and lock-down of the festival site at 7:15 a.m. He was advised as the situation continued that after an assessment of the fire site by the Ontario Fire Marshall, a time would be given when it was safe to open. At 11:30 a.m., the green light was given to open the site.

As to the cancellation of the Clan Parade, Doherty said, “We were working closely with emergency services to get access back into the park, but by about 10 a.m., an hour before the parade was set to begin, we needed to make a call that it wasn't possible to facilitate the parade.”

He noted there wasn’t time to assess an alternate route for the parade. The public was notified through social media channels and the festival website, as well as directly answering phone calls throughout all the hustle and bustle.

“We continued to provide updates throughout the morning so that our patrons would know the status as soon as we did, and as directed by emergency services,” said Doherty. “The health and safety of our patrons was paramount. Our social media team was busy answering questions throughout the whole day to ensure that our patrons knew when the park was opened, when buses resumed, when and where activities were happening. This was an amazing achievement by our whole team!

“We are so proud of our local emergency services and how they reacted to this tragic event. They worked so hard to minimize the damage and get the fire out, as well as being empathetic to our festival and keeping us updated as they progressed and worked with us to get the park open for the festival as soon as it was safe to do so. Kudos to our local emergency services. Job well done!

“The Kincardine Scottish Festival and Highland Games will actively support any fund-raising efforts to support the businesses and residents affected by the fire.”

Once Victoria Park opened at 12:30 p.m., the program continued, with a display of Highland Dancing by the Guthrie School of Dance of Toronto, and the pipe band competition.

This year, the piping circle was in front of the main stage and each band, from Grade 5 to Grade 1, marched in and performed, before three judges. There were 19 pipe bands competing, and numerous pipers and drummers in the solo competitions.

The final results were as follows:

Grade 1:
 
  • 78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe Band; also had the best pipes, best drums and best bass and tenor



The 78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe Band competes at the Kincardine Scottish Festival; video by David Dadson

Grade 2:
 
  • Ottawa Highlanders Pipes and Drums; also had the best pipes, best drums and best bass and tenor
  • Peel Regional Police Pipe Band
  • Great Lakes Pipe Band



The Grade 2 band, the Greater Midwest Pipe Band of Battle Creek, Michigan, competes at the Kincardine Scottish Festival; video by David Dadson

Grade 3:
 
  • Guelph Pipe Band; also had the best pipes, best drums and best bass and tenor
  • Durham Regional Police Pipe Band
  • Peel Regional Police Pipe Band

Grade 4:
 
  • Guelph Pipe Band; also had the best pipes, best drums and best bass and tenor
  • Cabar Feidh Pipes and Drums of Michigan
  • London and District Pipe Band



The Grade 4 Durham Regional Police Pipe Band competes at the Kincardine Scottish Festival; video by David Dadson

Grade 5:
 
  • Durham Regional Police Pipe Band; also had the best pipes
  • Dundas Pipes and Drums
  • Paris/Port Dover Pipe Band; also had the best drums and best bass and tenor



The Dundas Pipes and Drums compete at the Kincardine Scottish Festival

In solo results:
 
  • Professional Piper of the Day – Ian K. MacDonald
  • Professional Drummer of the Day – Kyle Wardell
  • Amateur Piper of the Day – Evan James McConkey
  • Amateur Drummer of the Day – Sloan Pierce

For complete pipe band, and solo piping and drumming competition results, check the website at ppbso.org/kincardine-scottish-festival-2024/.

At the end of the competition, all the bands gathered in the piping circle for an incredible Massed Band performance, including a stirring rendigion of "Amazing Grace."



The Massed Band performs "Amazing Grace"

Kristine McMahon, marketing director with the Kincardine Scottish Festival, said the attendance at this year’s festival was surprising, given the fire emergency Saturday morning.

“We had amazing numbers all weekend long and when the Clan Parade was cancelled, Robinson Park saw some record numbers for the heavy events until Victoria Park was opened,” she said.

The highlights this year, she said, were the variety of entertainment, and relocating the piping circle to the main stage which was well-received by the Pipers and Pipe Band Society of Ontario (PPBSO) and the pipe bands.

As for the absence of the Highland Dancing competition, McMahon said depending on the feasibility of it, the festival committee would love to continue to have the performance on the main stage.

She added that the committee put a bigger emphasis on Sunday’s Family Day, with more activities for the children, and plans to grow this in the future.

Doherty thanked the hard-working volunteers, the festival’s sponsors, the Municipality of Kincardine and local dignitaries for their continued support.



The Massed Band forms up and then performs at the Kincardine Scottish Festival

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