HARPERS FERRY, W. Va. (WDVM) — Normally when people think of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, they think about the rich Civil War history engrained in the small town, not of the Irish Highlands. But kilts and bagpipes flooded the historic town all for a good cause.
The Friendship Fire Company partnered with their neighbor, The Barn, a local event venue, to put on a competition like no other. Chad Gauthier, co-owner of The Barn, explains that he wanted to put on the competition to bring people into the small town as well as benefit a local organization or charity.
“We basically are starting the first inaugural Highland Games here in Harpers Ferry,” Gauthier explained “It’s a big fundraiser for the local fire department.”
Around 35 people, most of them decked out in kilts, competed in feats of strength like ax and keg throwing, fighting sticks, and the caber toss, where competitors try to vertically flip a large tapered pole.
Ryan Chronister was one of the competitors at the Inaugural Highland Games but it was not his first time stepping into the ring to test his strength. He says the rush of the competition is what keeps him coming back.
“It’s kind of like a roller coaster, got the anticipation, a little bit of nerves, but when you’re in it, you just enjoy in some rush,” Chronister said.
Chris Higdon, president of the Friendship Fire Company, says he is grateful for the neighborly generosity that was extended by The Barn. He highlighted that it was Chad and his wife, Kerry, who approached the fire company with the idea for the fundraiser. He explained the fire company will have no problems finding a use for the donation.
“It can be used for a number of things, I mean volunteerism here in Jefferson County is really struggling, these days, in terms of keeping operations running with limited budgets that we have,” Higdon said. “We will find something to do with whatever it is. We’re just very grateful that somebody actually thought about you know the benefits of being able to enable us to be able to serve our community.”
A portion of the money raised from the Highland Games will not only benefit the Friendship Fire Company but also the Loudoun Career Firefighters Foundation. Gauthier also hopes to make the competition an annual event with different charities and organizations benefitting from the event.