Get out your kilt: Highland Games open in Wheaton

The organizers of the Highland Games, now underway in Wheaton, welcome people of Scottish ancestry and those who have never set foot on the wild moors of Scotland.

The latter group, as Chicago Scots President Gus Noble would say in his brogue, become “Scottish by inclination” celebrating his homeland during the two-day festival this Father’s Day weekend at the DuPage County Fairgrounds.

  Jen Piccione of the Bronx, New York, checks her husband James for cicadas that may have landed on him as he prepares for the bagpipe competition during the Scottish Festival & Highland Games at the DuPage County Fairgrounds on Friday in Wheaton. She did happen to find one, which she brushed away. Joe Lewnard/

The event combines culture and sport: heavy athletics, piping and drumming, dancing and some newer traditions. In one particular hurling contest, competitors throw a frozen, 1-pound haggis — it’s better you don’t know what’s in it — as far as possible while teetering on a half whisky (that’s the Scottish, not Irish, spelling) barrel.

The Games opened Friday afternoon in a new arena — the county fairgrounds — after years in Itasca. The festival continues with the parade of tartans, a car show and Celtic rock band Seven Nations performing at 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday.

The Highland Games are staged by and for the Chicago Scots, formerly known as the Illinois St. Andrew Society. All proceeds from the Games support Caledonia Senior Living & Memory Care.

  Mila Liskutin, 4, of Westchester, plays the Scottish Home hole during the Scottish Festival & Highland Games at the DuPage County Fairgrounds in Wheaton. Joe Lewnard/

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