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Photo of 'heavy' athletes preparing to compete in the caber toss
"Heavy" athletes prepare to compete in the caber toss

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Ligonier Highland Games
A Local Legacy

Have you ever heard of a "heavy athlete"? No, it's not an overweight ballplayer; it's someone who takes part in traditional Scottish games. The Highland Games in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, offer plenty of heavy athletes the opportunity to compete in events like tree-throwing. How would you like to throw a tree?

By the time of the Revolutionary War, it was estimated that one out of every three people living in western Pennsylvania was of Scottish ancestry. Today, the people of Ligonier celebrate their Scottish heritage by holding the Ligonier Highland Games. The most popular games are called "heavy athletics." These games are a test of strength and skill for those who compete. Ancient Scottish leaders, chieftains, originally used Highland games to select the best men to go into battle. But in Ligonier the games are just for fun!

Heavy athletes do things like throw big stones or even hammers to see who can throw the farthest. They also compete in a game called the caber toss. Caber is Gaelic (the traditional language of Scotland) for tree. The caber used in the Ligonier Highland Games is a tree trunk more than 14 feet long!

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