This was supposed to be a big year for the Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games. This August would have marked 75 years of tradition in Fergus, Ontario. The Festival draws over thirty thousand visitors each year and is the oldest Scottish Festival in North America.
It’s also an established part of the community’s identity.
Since the Festival has been postponed, the Board decided to present a modern take on their traditional Scottish celebration. It all happens on August 7, 8, and 9th!
Watch: On Location filming Heavies with Elizabeth from Fergus Scottish Festival
I’ve been thrilled to be filming a portion of the digital event and working along with Elizabeth and the team from the Festival. We have captured some really incredible content and I’ve met some really amazing athletes, competitors, volunteers and staff.
You’ll get a chance to also meet them, albeit virtually. I’m super proud to be a part of the upcoming Wee Digital Ceildh
Ceilidh: a social event at which there is Scottish or Irish folk music and singing, traditional dancing, and storytelling.
I must apologize, I can’t share too many inside secrets, but we agreed this little ‘experiment’ that happened while filming the Heavy Events was just too wild to keep to ourselves.
Competitors from all over the world attend the Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games and compete in the “Heavies.”
Here a list of Fergus Scottish Festival Heavy Events:
Weight for Distance
Weight for Height
Scottish Hammer Throw
and the Caber Toss
We captured some great demonstrations of these athletes in five different events. Somewhere along the way, someone suggested a fun idea with a GoPro and the Caber Toss.
We decided to strap a GoPro on top of a twenty-foot tall Caber, toss it into the air and see what happens.
Sounds like fun to me! Let’s do it!
I should tell you in advance, I’ve lost and destroyed several GoPro’s over the years. One is floating in a river in New Zealand at the bottom of a seventy-foot waterfall.
Needless to say, I was 100% on board, plus the GoPro we were about to use was already damaged from a previous experiment, I have no clue when or where.
Tossing a 20’ Caber Into the Air with a GoPro
With full disclosure, we didn’t’ have many resources available to attach this lightweight camera to it’s new, un-proportionately large, wooden tripod.
We barely got it attached and in our defence, a caber doesn’t provide the best grip for cloth sporting tape.
Time to lift.
After hulling the caber into the air, the slightest breeze flopped our camera lens face down on top of the caber. Sigh. I was thankful not to be lifting.
Time to bring it back down.
A little more tape (and maybe a little chewing gum.) We managed to secure it with reasonable confidence.
Fully up in the air, our willing athlete Jamie was tasked with slowly rotating the caber before tossing it. This little maneuver was to make sure the lens facing forward for best recording.
One Really BIG lift off the ground and then THE TOSS!
Perfect execution from Jamie, but did the camera survive?!
We rushed to inspect the camera and to our surprise, it appeared to survive the impact. Everything seemed to work but there was no way to know for sure until the footage is downloaded.
Overconfident in our success, we decided to test fate and attach the GoPro to the metal ball and chain and throw it a couple of dozen feet. And when I say we, I mean them-- the humans with significantly more strength than me.
I read somewhere that they call the 56lbs ball and chain “The Widow Maker,” for obvious reasons, but the one we used was only 16 lbs attached to a four-foot handle. I think it deserves its own destructive title. They are used in both “Weight for Distance” and “Weight for Height” competitions, but in this case, we were using it to lob a GoPro across a field.
Great fun and another apparent success!
I captured a few quick interviews with Elizabeth, and then a few extra pickup shots and we all called it a wrap!
I raced back to see what the GoPro had captured during our little experiment and here’s what I discovered:
The camera survives and records the journey all the way to the top (what a view!) and then stops. I can only imagine that the next 5 seconds were impacted by the fall-- but sadly we were left with no footage of the toss :(
Here’s the very last moment it captured:
However, there is two pieces of great news!
The first bit of miraculous news:
The footage survived being thrown across the field strapped to the sixteen-pound metal ball and four-foot chain! You are going to want to see that! EXCLUSIVELY on the Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games website this August 7-9! Visit their website and Facebook Page to learn more!
Second, Elizabeth did this:
What do you think??!?!! Should we make a third attempt?
Let me know in the comments if you think we should consider one more toss.