MORE than 3500 people flocked to the Aberdeen Highland games last Saturday, with the céilidh, or party, going well into the night.
The event, which began 13 years ago, is growing in size each year, attracting more highland games competitors from around Australia, Aberdeen Highland Games president Barrie Lawn said.
“For an event that started in 2000, as a little event after the meat works closed because we needed some community spirit, it has grown to be the third largest in the state and attracts bands and competitors from all over Australia,” Mr Lawn said. “This year was the largest to date. The day began a little slowly, but by midday we estimate more than 3500 people were there.
“Her Excellency Marie Bashir was the guest of honour and said she had a wonderful day. She told me she was particularly taken by the young dancers from Aberdeen Public School who were beginners and the St Joseph’s dancers.”
Chef of the day was Donald MacLeod,who travelled with his wife from their home in Tasmania.
Many clan chefs from Sydney attended the day as well as local identities Joel Fitzgibbon, federal member for Hunter; Lee Watts, mayor of the Upper Hunter Shire Council; Niall Blair, who represented state member for Upper Hunter George Souris; and Cr Michael Johnsen of the Upper Hunter Shire Council.
Some residents questioned this year’s ticket price, which was $20 per adult, but Mr Lawn was quick to put this in perspective.
“It costs approximately $50,000 to run the event; it is expensive,” he said. “The electricity alone is $4000,most of which is paid for by the organising committee. We are not-for-profit and any community groups that help on the day, such as the SES, CWA and Apex, are all reimbursed for their services, so the money is flowing back into other local not-for-profit organisations also. Without the major sponsors and ticket prices we would not be able to stage the event.
“Next year though, we plan not charging admission for children under the age of 12,to assist families.”