Celtic Festival and Highland Games of the Quad Cities



About Special Highland Games

Celtic Games of Strength and Agility and Agility and Strength are for EVERYONE!SHG2.JPG

The first Special Highland Games (2016) was an adaptation of Heavy Athletics of Highland Games for Adults with Disabilities.  It has expanded!!!  Special Highland Games now include Highland Dance, which is a main stay of what is known as Light Athletics in the Games 

Highland Games date back to the 11th Centry.  Heavy Athletics were origninally competitions among men that demonstrated their manhood, using items found commonly in the Scottish Highlands, such as stones, logs, and blacksmith hammers.  They are an ancient test of strength and agility and are considered by many the grandfather of strength sports.

Highland Dance Competitions is the mainstay of Light Athletics.  It was once performed exclusively by men and began as athletic competitions among warriors.  Dances such as the Highland Fling and the Ghillie Callum (or sword dance) required great skill and energy, and kept the troops in condition. The dance competitions grew out of these traditions.

Foot races also fall under Light Athletics in traditional Games. Some theorized that the races were a test of endurance for messengers. The festival currently does not contest a foot race.

Thus, it can be said that Light Athletics are tests of agility and strength and Heavy Athletics is a test of strength and agility. 

Since Celtic Festivals honor tradition, Special Highland Games is one tradition that we plan to carry on and promote.

The symbol for Special Highland Games is an adaptation of the Celtic Symbol of Love.  This symbol combines the traditional Spirit, Mind, and Body with:

  • Enthsiasm - as that is what these individuals bring
  • Athleticsm - as that is what these individuals show
  • Fun - as that is what these individuals have

The first Special Highland Games had a profound impact on the throwers as demonstrated by their spontaneous stopping their competition and gathering around the Athletics Tent, giving their fellow athletes a rousing applause as each individual received their medal.  

The Events

videos coming soon 

DISTANCE EVENTS - Each athlete recieves three attempts.  The best of these three is used to rank the athletes. 

  • Braemar Stone (Heavier Stone from a standing position)
    • Men's 14lb stone
    • Women's 12lb stone
  • Open Stone (Lighter Stone with any form of shot put style of movement)
    • Men and women will both use the 8lb stone
  • Weights for Distance: Throwing a weight attached to a handle by a chain for distance
    • Men throw the 21lb implement
    • Women throw a 14lb implement
  • Hammer: A weight on the end of a PVC shaft thrown for distance
    • Men throw a 12lb hammer
    • Women throw an 9lb hammer

CABER TOSS - Flipping a pole end-over-end for accuracy.  Accuracy is detemined by landing position of the caber as if it was a minute hand of a clock.  The closer the minuter hand is to 12:00, the better the result.

WEIGHT-OVER-BAR - Tossing a weight/heavy ball over a ball for height

Origins of SHG:

Special Highland Games is the brain-child of Taylor Hurry.  He approached the Athletics Director, Mark McVey, with this idea.  The idea was to expand Highland Games Heavy Athletics.  This lead to the launching of the first ever in the world Special Highland Games in 2016.

The first Special Highland Games was a joint program of forward looking  The Arc of the Quad Cities and Celtic Cultures Alliance of the Quad Cities.  It was sponsored by Sport-Kilt.

Here is the Rouges Gallary of those who Participated in 2016's Special Highland Games


Highland Dance is Added to SHG:

When Certificed Dance Instructor, Bryce Woyak, heard  of Special Highland Games, he joined the effort by volunteering to teach some basic highland dance steps on Friday afternoon of the Games weekend.   Details of this wonderful opportunity for Special Highland Games Athletes.  More details will be announced shortly.

Who is behind SHG?

SHG will be administered by Special Highland Games, and Lisa Marquez, William Gast, Taylor Hurry, and Mark Mc Vey

and is a program of Celtic Cultures Alliance of the Quad Cities

hosted at Celtic Festival and Highland Games of the Quad Cities

When and Where

Where: Centennial Park

We will be running upto three flights (groups) of throwers:

  1. Friday, September 15, 2017, Starting time to be announced for both Heavy Athletics Competition as well as Highland Dance Demonstration. 
  2. Saturday, September 16, 2017, check in starts at 8:30 am, throwing starts at 9:30 am 
  3. Saturday, September 16, 2017, Check in starts 12:30 pm, throwing starts at 1:00 pm (time may change)


All practices will be at Centennial Park, 315 South Marquette St., Davenport, Iowa


From 8/13/2017 to 9/13/2017

Sunday evening starting at 5:00 pm

Wednesday evening practices 6:00 pm

Please Donate

Special Highland Games is a new endeavor.  We have purchased extra equipment and have additional costs in hosting these wonderful Individuals.  Also, we would like to have a supply of extra kilts for those who cannot afford or do not want to purchase one for a once a year event. 


Donations are to Celtic Cultures Alliance of the Quad Cities 501(c)3 and supports Celtic education, including Special Highland Games. On the Special Instructions line please enter SHG.

By donating, you can become a Friend of the Festival!  The Celtic Festival and Highland Games of the Quad Cities is a free event because of the support of donors like you.   These donations have allowed us to undertake the creation and hosting of Special Highland Games (SHG).  All money received goes towards the event, such as this festival and Special Highland Games.  They are tax deductible (501(c)3).   We are proud that we have no paid staff and the events are entirely organized by volunteers.

Bronze ($50 - $99)
As a thank-you, all bronze level friends receive a Celtic Festival T-shirt.

Silver ($100 - $199)
As a thank-you, all silver level friends receive two Celtic Festival T-shirts, and are listed in the event program for the Celtic Festival and Highland Games of the Quad Cities.

Gold ($200+)
As a thank-you, all gold level friends receive four Celtic Festival T-shirts, are listed in the event program for the Celtic Festival and Highland Games of the Quad Cities, and are recognized by name during the Parade of Tartans at the Celtic Festival.


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