Highland Games’ return sets torch towards new Grand Valley tradition

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — Celtic culture, couture, and cuisine call for a crowd pleaser in the Grand Valley Highland Games. While based in Grand Junction, the Scottish and Irish festival attracts clans and communities near and far.

Vendors and organizations thrive off major public events, especially ones that overlap in a mutual theme. For a food vendor based in Denver, traveling all over and trying new events isn’t about the money as long as they can bring the goods.

“We love to travel, that’s what we do,” Danielle Aznar elaborates, “We travel with our smokers, I’ve got four of them. We do all the Colorado events; from down south to Telluride all the way to Grand Junction with the people. We like to build relationships. Sometimes, first annuals are tough but you know you just gotta do it and it just keeps building, so I just like to make those friendships with everyone.”

Sausage and turkey legs are not the only things making a special trip. Because of COVID, highland games were cancelled all over the county last year, poking a hole in pipe bands’ chances to perform and compete.

Before this weekend, Wasatch & District’s Pipe Band hadn’t played together for eighteen months. Traveling from Salt Lake City, the Grand Valley Highland Games gives the band a weekend to dust off the cobwebs, reminding members why they joined in the first place.

“Being able to do these things and spend time with our bandmates is honestly, like, that’s why we do this,” Kariann Hibbard reflects, “So this was such a good reminder of why we’re doing this, and it helps to kind a like that fire so that we put more work into it so they were more prepared for the next event.”

Hosted by Taylor’s Croft, both days of the festival result in a heavy turnout. Both participants and attendees look forward to highland games as a new regular tradition for years to come.

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