By Carolyn Irvine
Although the Murray Scottish Festival and Highland Games provided a great day of Scottish events, it sorely lacked organization.
The day’s frustration began early at 8 a.m. when bagpipers stood in line to sign in for the solo competition. While some competitors’ numbers were not found, others faced the fear of not being allowed to compete because they registered late.
Fortunately, after some work all the competitors were allowed to participate. By this time it was 9 a.m. and the competitions were supposed to start. However, the judges had still not arrived.
The judges were at the mercy of the game organizers to drive them to the games from their hotel room.
There had been trouble with this the night before when the judges were stranded after the Tattoo performance and fireworks.
The judges had flown in from Canada and did not have their own car. They rightfully expected to be driven back to their hotel. However, in the end they had to take a bus.
When the judges finally arrived at the June 10 competitions, they had to wait while the organizers scrambled to determine the competition order. This should have been done at least the day before.
The bagpiping competitions were held at three different tents. The tents were numbered, but the organizers did not tell the pipers which tents they needed to go to.
Bagpipers had to run around frantically trying to find where to go. When some game organizers were asked where to go, they were often unhelpful and rude.
To the organizers’ credit, the competitors received their grading sheets quickly after competitions ended. However, the winners’ medals were not given out because they had been lost.
The chaos did not end with the solo competitions. People wishing to buy authentic Scottish food had to wait in line for three hours or more.
Apparently the food vendors had not been told or simply did not think about the expected large festival attendance. They had only the minimal number of cooks and servers.
The Murray Games provided an excellent learning opportunity for anyone ever thinking of organizing an event. It showed all the things that can go wrong but never should if careful planning is implemented.