At least five grade 2 bands, four from Ontario and one from the US, have all voluntarily backed away from an invitation by the Kincardine Scottish Festival to participate in a Grade 2 “Battle of the Bands” competition at the Kincardine Highland Games on July 8.
Greater Midwest Pipe Band, Peel Regional Police, St. Andrew’s College Association, Toronto Police and the Ottawa Highlanders have all declined invitations to play in the event due to lack of participation by The Pipers and Pipe Band Society of Ontario. Some Ontario judges have also declined to participate.
These decisions were all taken independently after it was learned that the games would mount a grade 2 band contest using Society bands and judges, but without Society involvement on the day. Current construction around the games site has made a full Highland games impossible. The idea of the games possibly proceeding without Society involvement for this year was raised, and the Society offered the committee contact information of member bands who might be willing to perform during the day. A competition of any kind was not discussed, and that was how the matter was left.
However, when the games unilaterally announced its “Battle of the Bands” event and began approaching bands, all lined up behind a Society that since 1947 has provided the foundations for some of the finest piping and drumming in the world.
Peel Regional Police was the first band to turn down the invitation. “The PPBSO does a terrific job creating opportunities for soloists and bands in Ontario to compete and I personally feel that we need to have some loyalty here and support our society,” said Pipe Major John Cairns. “We hope the games will be back on in 2024 and that the PPBSO will continue to run the events, because this is one of the band’s favourite contests and we will miss having a chance to play there.
Matt MacIsaac, Pipe Major of the St. Andrew’s College Association Pipe Band of Aurora, expressed similar sentiments. “The games offered a very attractive package of prize money and incentives,” he said. “But there is a bigger picture here that says we need to support the long-term health of our Society and its traditional relationship to the games. We look forward to Kincardine games next year.”
The Kincardine Scottish Festival provides one of the most attractive games parks on the circuit and is a favourite of many bands and soloists. All hopes are for a return to normal operation in 2024. Bands asked to provide non-competition performances on the day are encouraged to attend.