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Juno-nominated Beòlach to take centre stage at ScotFestBC in Coquitlam

The Nova Scotia band is heading west to the 90th highland games, and its organizer continues to pray for no rain during the event's full return.

There will be no rain.

That’s what Coquitlam resident Mike Chisholm is praying for as one of the largest events in the city returns — in full — this weekend.

As executive director of ScotFestBC, Chisholm has contended with some nasty weather for a couple of past events at Town Centre Park. Now, Chisholm shakes his head and smiles as he remembers the monsoons that cleared out the crowds.

This year, he said, he’s secured a massive tent to keep guests dry as they kick up their kilts to the sounds from the Ceilidh Stage.

"We’re just putting the final touches on our Highland Games," Chisholm told the Tri-City News.

"We’re in the best shape we’ve ever been in. It’s going to happen rain or shine, but if it rains, we have an 8,000 sq-ft. cover."

And the organizers of the 90th annual ScotFestBC: The British Columbia Highland Games have plenty lined up for the Ceilidh Stage on Friday night (June 17) and all-day Saturday (June 18).

Taking top performance spot is Beòlach, a four-piece band from Cape Breton, N.S., that was nominated for a 2021 Juno Award in the Traditional Roots Album of the Year category.

The Celtic ensemble will be on a tour of B.C., playing at the Harrison Festival on Thursday (June 16) followed by ScotFestBC on:

  • June 17 at 7:30 p.m.
  • June 18 at 2:15 and 5:45 p.m.

They end their western Canada trip with a Father’s Day show at the Sid Williams Theatre in Courtenay.

"Beòlach is setting the tone for the future of ScotFestBC as we bring in award-winning Celtic bands from across the country," Chisholm said.

Meanwhile, there will be lots of entertainment on other stages at the festival grounds on the east side of Lafarge Lake.

Opens Friday night

The Games officially open Friday night (free entry) at 6 p.m. with Chieftain-of-the-Day Robert McNeil, a Coquitlam resident who manages the SFU Pipe Band, kicking off the celebrations with a cannon blast from the 78th Fraser Highlanders.

On Saturday (ticketed entry), Highland dancers will start their competition on the main stage at 8:30 a.m., while Coquitlam businessman Paul Manocha will be the emcee for the heritage stage, which features multicultural acts from 10 a.m. to 6:15 p.m.

Residents and visitors can also cheer on the athletes as they throw hammers, stones and cabers at the Lew Ross Scottish Heavy Event Field for the Provincial All-Stars Invitational.

Chisholm believes the 90th Games will stand out "because of the attitude of the people heading in."

"Everybody is coming back, just like the old days," he said. 

"We are looking forward to a really good event and to celebrate all things like we used to do before the [COVID-19] pandemic."

Tickets for Saturday are $20/$15/$10 via ScotFestBC's website, where you can also find more information.

The Tri-City News is a partial sponsor of ScotFestBC.