FOR 51 years, Scotsman Donald Campbell has been actively involved in highland games.
But he said serving as the Chieftain of the 157th Maryborough Highland Gathering had been his proudest moment yet.
“It’s a big, big honour,” he said as he prepared to deliver the official opening address.
Performers saluted the podium upon which he stood throughout the parade, which marked the start of the day's festivities.
The main streets of Maryborough were closed to traffic and lined with people as bands marched by.
Bands included the Maryborough City Brass Band, VHPBA Performance Pipes and Drums, Castlemaine Highland Pipe Band, Clan Macleod Pipe Band, Creswick Brass Band, Golden City Pipe Band, St Arnaud NSM Pipe Band, Bendigo Highland Pipe Band, and Maryborough and District Highland Pipe Band.
Kilted motorcycle riders and vintage cars and fire trucks also formed part of the parade.
Neil Parker came from Rochester with his wife and friends to see the spectacle – the first time they had attended in many years.
Their interest in the event was piqued by a passion for Scottish bands, culture and athletics.
“We have been to Scotland,” Mr Parker said.
As the day’s guest of honour, Mr Campbell was impressed by how the people of central Victoria had preserved and upheld Scottish traditions.
This was his second visit to the Maryborough event, but his first ever time as chieftain.
He was excited to further explore Victoria and its connections to Scotland.
Mr Campbell said his role involved maintaining a presence throughout the gathering.
“Traditionally the chieftain will go to every event,” he said.
Princes Park was bustling with activity on Monday afternoon.
Families made the most of the carnival activities, which included rides, face painting, show bags, a petting zoo.
Others were intent on watching the feats of athleticism on the field, including the Max Martin 120m Maryborough Gift.
Bands provided entertainment between races.
Highland dancing was also expected to be a draw card.
The Maryborough Highland Gathering was billed as Australia’s oldest continuous running sporting event.
HOW do you grow the appeal of a more than 150-year-old event?
It’s the question the organisers of the Maryborough Highland Gathering have been asking themselves for years – and 2018 was no exception.
The crowd at this year’s event was estimated at 5000 people as the carnival and athletic feats kicked off in earnest.
An evening concert and fireworks display were to come later in the day.
New Year’s Day committee chairman Glenn Hooper said the organisers were always looking for new ways to engage people, including attracting new bands.
He believed the blend of tradition and new elements had contributed to the gathering’s enduring success, and would continue to do so.
“It’s just a great family day,” Mr Hooper said.
“Even over in Scotland they’ve got nothing to compare it against.
“They’re just ticked pink with it.”
After a two-year absence from the event, the Castlemaine Highland Pipe Band made a triumphant return on Monday.
Pipe major David Barnard considered it important for the band to be there.
“It’s such a significant event for the area,” he said.
Edinburgh inspires teen musician
AT the age of 15, Emily Earl has played the bagpipes before thousands of people as part of an internationally-acclaimed cast.
She last year spent five weeks living in Scottish capital, at the University of Edinburgh, where she had the opportunity to meet fellow musicians and to learn from the best.
“I improved my playing, just playing every day at such a high standard,” Miss Earl said.
The skills she learned, and the experience she gained, were to be on display during Monday evening’s televised broadcast of the 2017 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
Earlier in the day, Miss Earl was among the Victorian Highland Pipe Band Association Performance Pipes and Drums musicians performing for crowds in Maryborough as part of the community’s highland gathering.
She was also billed as one of the highland dancers to perform later in the program.
For Miss Earl, learning to play the bagpipes and to become a highland dancer was a natural extension to her family’s talents.
Her father, Chris Earl, was also among the performers marching through Maryborough’s streets on Monday.
“I just love playing the bagpipes as much as I can,” Miss Earl said.
She hopes to return to Edinburgh in future to further immerse herself in the musical and performing arts community.
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo screens on ABC at 8.30pm today.