More than 40 Scottish clans will be represented at the 41st annual Savannah Scottish Games, set for May 6 at Bethesda Academy.

"I've been involved with the games about a dozen years," says Jackson Sherrill, president of the Savannah Scottish Games. "I got involved as part of the St. Andrew's Society, which has always been a supporter of the games. It's a great thing to do with the kids and it's always fun."

The Savannah games are the fourth oldest Scottish Games in the Southeast. The event features athletic competitions, traditional dancing, entertainment, Scottish food and ale, Celtic art, clothing and jewelry.

Live music will be presented by traditional Scottish groups, including the Savannah Ceili Band, as well as Savannah bluegrass group City Hotel. Pipers and drumming bands from throughout the Southeast will perform and parade throughout the day.

"It's a multi-faceted event," Sherrill says. "We have the heavy athletics, which is the caber toss and hammer toss, and we also have a competition for Highland dancing that's a regional competition. The winners go on to the national event later in the year."

The Southern Regional Competition is held between traditional Scottish Highland dance groups that come from throughout the United States.

"We have a border collie demonstration," Sherrill says. "There are children's activities, Scottish foods and vendors and pipe bands. It wouldn't be Scottish without some pipers."

The Scottish food offerings include haggis, Scotch eggs, fish and chips and more. Sherrill's favorite is the Scotch egg.

"Any time you take a hard-boiled egg and roll it in sausage and fry it, what can be better?" he asks.

The crowd size is estimated at about 4,000 people. Not everyone who attends is Scottish.

"It's not a requirement - it's definitely not a requirement," Sherrill says. "We have people from all backgrounds."

Think you might be of Scottish ancestry but aren't sure? Visit the genealogy tent to find out.

"This is a way to help people discover their Scottish roots," Sherrill says. "It's a great way to get started and find resources to learn about your heritage."

Both men and women compete in the heavy games.

"This year, a wheelchair-bound athlete will compete in a few events," Sherrill says. "Not all are adaptable, but those that are, he will compete in.

"There's no litmus test for the heavy games," he says. "We do get a few novices who've never done this before, but there is a circuit for these things. We do attract quality athletes."

There are far more spectators than athletes.

"The competition is fun to watch," Sherrill says. "There's a lot of pageantry there.

"The pipers are always fun to see. The dancing is interesting to watch. It's definitely a spectator event."

The heavy games provide the excitement.

"The caber toss is the highlight of the day," Sherrill says. "The caber is as large as a cedar log, generally a rough 160 pounds.

"There are parameters depending upon the class of athlete. The more novice athletes use a slightly smaller caber.

"It's just impressive to watch," he says. "These guys essentially throw a telephone pole around."


What: 41st annual Savannah Scottish Games

When: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. May 6

Where: Bethesda Academy, 9520 Ferguson Ave.

Cost: $10 in advance online; $12 at the gate; $5 with student or military ID; free for children 10 and younger