The 52rd Geelong Highland Gathering on Sunday, March 8, 2009, will host the Victorian Pipe Band Championships, at Queen’s Park, for the ninth consecutive year.
The only time in recent years the championships were not held in Geelong was in 2004 when the Australian Championships were held at Queens Park instead.
The Scottish Heavy Games also made a return in 2008, after an absence of four years due to public liability insurance problems and will be held again in 2009. .
The Gathering, from 9.30am to 5.30pm, is Victoria ’s largest and most diverse celebration of Scottish culture, in a setting often described as “the Braemar of Australia”.
The first gathering in Geelong was in 1857, but this was discontinued in the Depression years and resumed in 1957 at its present home at Queens Park .
The gathering in 2008 was granted Major Event status and funding to expand its activities by the City of Greater Geelong .
It attracts more than 6000 people annually, many from elsewhere in Victoria as well as from other parts of and overseas tourists.
There are all the traditional Scottish attractions, such as pipe bands, Highland dancing, Scottish folk music and Scottish Heavy Games, a Scottish Market and clan tents to help people track their ancestry.
There are also Scottish breeds of dogs, horses and cattle including, Highland cattle.
But the gathering has grown to embrace archery, wood-chopping competitions, children's activities, a farmyard for small children and displays by a Scottish military re-enactment group, the 42nd Highlanders.
Most activities continue throughout the day, so there is much to keep visitors interested.
The Gathering is deliberately oriented toward families, with barbecue and picnic facilities available, novelty haggis hurling for all ages and access for disabled to most areas, depending on the weather
Gathering president Ian Morison said yesterday he was delighted with Victorian Pipe Band Association decision to again award the championships to Geelong.
The Gathering had lifted its profile and in recent years and attracted major interstate bands and pipers and drummers from .
Mr Morison said that with the support of the City of Greater Geelong , the gathering committee was preparing a bid for the Australian Pipe Band Championships and would be prepared to host them on a permanent basis.
This would give Geelong and the gathering a strong international Scottish profile.
“The CoGG announced recently that the Gathering attracts nearly $400,000 to Geelong annually and we would like to boost this to more than $1 million over the next three years and cement its place as one of the region’s most important major events,” Mr Morison said.
Due to current economic circumstances, the Gathering committee has held entry charges to what they have been for the past fur years: Adults $12, concession $10, Family $30, under-16 $5, under-five Free.