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A taste of the Highland Games comes to Hillier Park Day

Children at Hillier Park had some help in the tug-o-war with a strongman helper.

Story and photos by Sharon Harrison
One of Canada’s strongest men – a Hillier resident – and four of his Highland Games peers brought their unique sport to the village’s annual community park day festivities on the weekend.

Strongman Padraic Moore, of Hillier, participates in the rock tossing challenge.

Highland Games are known for athletic events including caber toss, weight throw, tug-o-war, and hammer throw. The Hillier version included demonstrations and a scaled-down version for children to test their skills.

A Hillier Highlander strongmen tosses a weight over the high bar.

The focus of the afternoon’s events was the Hillier Highlander Challenge featuring Hillier resident Padriac Moore, along with Joe de Witt, Austin Sztajdocher, Brian Pennell, John Cavanagh. Moore is one of Ontario’s strongest men, and his many strongman and Highland Games achievements and titles include a 10th strongest man in Canada ranking.

Held Saturday at Jack Taylor Bicentennial Park, Hillier Park Day brought out local residents and also welcomed a few from out of town.

Strongmen events included the car deadlift, tossing large rocks across a portion of the field, and weights across a high bar. The weight for the high bar toss came in at 56 pounds and the bar moved higher after each strongman had three tries, first at 13 feet, then 14 and 15 feet.

With the bar lowered, the public was permitted to give the high bar toss a try, with small balls substituted for the iron weight for the youngest children.

A fun tug-o-war included many children on one side and one strongman on the other. When it became evident the kids were winning, a few more strongmen were added, but the children still ending up winning the tug.

The free family event also featured horse-drawn wagon rides and tractor-drawn wagon rides courtesy of Len Smith who took patrons on a short, but interesting tour of the immediate area including local farmers’ fields, former industrial buildings and a local vineyard.

“I like to take people to see things that they maybe haven’t seen before,” said Smith. “I mean how many soy beans would you get to see?” he added, laughing.

Kristies Little Portable Petting Zoo also entertained young and older with an assortment of small animals including a llama, a mother sheep and her offspring, a small goat and a Juliana piglet.

“She’s still a youngster and will only grow to the size of a small basset hound, so they make great pets,” said Kristie Istead, owner of the petting zoo, referring to the piglet.

There were two white Sebastopol geese, call ducks and guinea pigs and all were accessible for the little ones to handle, or to sit with in their pens or to simply admire from a safe distance. Rosebud – or Rosie to her friends – is an eight-year-old mini paint.

“She’s great with kids and pretty much the same height,” said Istead.

The PEC Fire Department brought the big fire truck with its extended 100-foot ladder and volunteers were ready to answer questions and entertain requests to be in the truck’s driver’s seat.

There were childrens’ games, face painting and paints available to paint stones.

One of the dunk tank’s youngest victims.

The dunk tank saw a number of local kids take a dip and many more who avoided getting a soaking. By afternoon’s end, a few grown-ups decided to partake in the dunk tank including Moore who got caught and was dunked after just a few attempts by local kids.

The Hillers Highlanders Joe de Witt, Austin Sztajdocher, Brian Pennell, John Cavanagh and Padraic Moore show off the frying pans they each bent out of shape.

Things got a little silly as the day’s activities began to wrap up as the strongmen were bending old frying pans to see who could fold them as tightly as possible. The fry pans were then signed by the strongmen and given away to a few lucky children as mementos.

The tractor-drawn wagon ride through Hillier with driver Len Smith.

Tractor-wagon driver and Hiller Recreation Committee member Len Smith said, “This is probably 15 to 20 years that we have doing this and we like to give something different every year, but we can’t always. I’ve been doing wagon rides for probably 15 years. It’s just to have fun; we don’t get rich at it; the whole idea is that it’s great for the community.”

Filed Under: Featured ArticlesSports & Recreation

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