Logs from Laketown Township got a Highland Games workout on Wednesday, May 24, as men and women trained for upcoming competitions in Holland and Kalamazoo.
About two dozen people hit the field on 32nd Street west of Lugers Road to test their mettle with the stone throw, hammer toss and caber toss, a traditional Scottish competition of throwing a large, tapered pole.
The cabers were taken last November under township supervision from fallen trees in Laketown Township Hall Park, 4338 Beeline Road, and Wolters Woods Park, 6281 147th Ave.
The township does not allow people to take standing trees from parks. Kate Boeve, a world-class Highland Games athlete and record holder from Holland, led a group who chose trees that had already fallen. Brett Grams, Laketown facilities operations, supervised the removal.
The fallen trees needed to be straight and solid – no bug infestations – to withstand repeated throws.
The local Highland Games organizers trimmed and planed the logs.
“We work on them not because they have problems. We are cutting off partial limbs, knobs, excess bark, trimming the top and bottom of broken parts,” Boeve said.
Large logs are cut to a manageable weight.
“We also trim and then plane down the narrower end so the throwers can slide their hands down and around the base without injury, and so the base is small enough for them to be able to hold it,” she said.
Cabers can be 6 to 8 feet for young athletes, 14 to 17 feet long and up to 90 pounds for female participants and 17 to 21 feet long and more than 100 pounds for top-tier male participants.
There are two upcoming local festivals.
The Holland Waterfront Celtic Festival and Highland Games are June 23-24 at the Ottawa County Fairgrounds.
The Kalamazoo Scottish Festival is Sept. 9 at Kindleberger Park.
The local group might need more logs after those festivals wrap up. In fact, one pole broke Wednesday night during practice.
“As you could see from our pile of cabers, at this point we are not looking for more now. We have another seven to prepare over the next couple weeks,” Boeve added.