When Lew Ross turns 80 next Monday, he will not only be a hall-of-famer with the Canadian Scottish Athletics Federation but he’ll also have a Coquitlam festival field named in his honour.
Saturday, the Chilliwack resident will be recognized by organizers with the BC Highland Games and Scottish Festival for his 25 years in coordinating its heavy events competitions, with a dedicated site.
The Lew Ross Field, as it will be called during the annual event, will be located on the former BMX track area, by the tennis courts — a grassed 320’ by 180’ relatively flat, irrigated ground.
Ross, who saw the field for the first time Monday with The Tri-City News, is overwhelmed.
“It’s a totally undeserved honour,” the Glasgow native said, shaking his head. “I just can’t believe my eyes.”
Although Ross retired as the heavy events athletic director position 20 years ago, he continues to attend the Highland Games, give lectures and reminisce of his award-winning abilities: He was a three-time heavy events master champion of North America in the early 1990s and competed in festivals from Whitehorse to Hawaii (his favourites were the 28 lb. weight for distance and the 16 lb. hammer).
As a director of the games, which moved around the Lower Mainland before finding a home 28 years ago in Coquitlam, Ross got to know many amateur athletes in the provincial championships competing in stone putt, Scottish hammer toss and caber toss, among others.
This year, he’ll meet athletes from around B.C., Alberta, Quebec, Washington State, Oregon and Texas vying for titles and prizes.
But it’s not the only competition happening Saturday as hundreds of pipers, drummers and highland dancers will also be before the judges for adjudication.
Festival chair Mike Chisholm said there will be a lot going on at the BC Highland Games and Scottish Festival as it moves within Town Centre Park from Percy Perry Stadium to the east side of Lafarge Lake.
The new meadow site will be filled with music and entertainment as visitors move around to catch the shows. “It’s going to be something Coquitlam has never seen before,” he said. “It’s not a tattoo where you sit there; it’s going to be a dynamic Highland Games where you wonder around to see it all.
“It’s going to be an acoustic soup,” he said when asked about the sound. “It’s going to be very, very loud — the way every highland games should be. They’re going to hear us all the way to Mission.”
Last year's event drew about 12,000 people and Eric Kalnins, the city’s tourism director, called the festival one of Coquitlam’s “largest signature summer events.”
“In addition to the positive economic impact of the BC Highland Games and Scottish Festival associated with hotel room nights and other local spending by organizers and visitors, the event also raises the awareness of Coquitlam as a destination to visit and further solidifies Coquitlam as a location to hold world-class events,” he said.
And Chisholm is already looking ahead to 2020, when he hopes to extend the festival throughout the weekend, with Sunday geared for multicultural entertainment and activities.
• The BC Highland Games and Scottish Festival launches Friday at 5 p.m. with the Open Piobaireachd (piping competition) followed by the Tartan Run at 6:30 p.m. and musical group The Paperboys performing at 7 p.m. Saturday, bring a lawn chair or a blanket to watch the events that start at 8 a.m. and finish with the massed pipe bands and awards at 5:30 p.m. The beer garden ceilidh is on until 9 p.m. Tickets cost $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and students, and $5 for children six to 12 years of age, plus handling charges. Info: bchighlandgames.com.