Judging at Grandfather Mountain Games 2021

Ed Krintz and I judged a very high standard piping event at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games in Linville, North Carolina, on July 10.

The venue has often been likened to the Braemar Highland Gathering. Below is a summary of the competition Ed and I worked on. The photos show the lovely weather and how well-attended the event was.

We had the pleasure of judging the Open Piobaireachd. Grandfather Mountain Highland Games is a unique event in the US, offering only solo piping and drumming, with no band competitions. 

By Joyce McIntosh

In addition, it is one of the largest gatherings in the US, and was the first event held with very few restrictions since March 2020 when covid brought everything to a grinding halt in the Highland Games world.

This was an enjoyable event to judge, as the participation was high, clearly showing that all players were thankful to be able to be back competing in person. 

On the day, eighty-six pipers entered over all classes of events, ranging from practice chanter competition up through the amateur Grades 5 through 1. 



Eleven pipers entered for the Open events, which is a very good turnout for such a contest in the southern US. At least four of the competitors have frequently been seen competing and placing at games venues in Scotland in recent years.

Having two adjudicators ‘on board’ for the piobaireachd event afforded the competitors a wider range of comments and opinions on their tunes. 

Overall, the performances were of a high standard, with solid, consistent instrument tone and tuning, and demonstrating a very mature level of technique and musical presentation. 

The crowd enjoying a ‘live’ event

We, the judges were left with some thoughtful leeway in arriving at a decision.

The results were:  

1.  Bobby Durning, The Rout of Glenfruin  

2.  Dan Lyden, Battle of Auldearn No2 

3.  Andrew Donlon, Rory McLoude’s Lament 

4.  Alastair Murray, Old Men of the Shells 

5.  Ben McClamrock, Park Piobaireachd No2 

6.  Grace Abernethy, Lament for MacSwan of Roaig

The judges and the winner, Bobby Durning

Also competing were Kevin Darmadi, Stanton Man, and Nick Hudson. Entered but unable to play were Lyric Todkill and Andrew Walker.

This was the final event of the day, and bleachers were provided nearby on which to sit, so the Open players tended to linger and listen to each other. 

In addition, numerous amateur pipers and others were in attendance paying close attention to the full contest. 

The eponymous mountain looms over the games park

It has been mentioned previously in Piping Press, and lamented by judges and open players on this side of the water, how important and beneficial it is to sit in on an Open contest, yet how few normally take advantage of these situations.  

Kudos to the organizer Cecilia Higgins, ably assisted by Sally Warburton, in putting together a prestigious event where both judges and spectators had the opportunity to hear some very good music. 


1 thought on “Judging at Grandfather Mountain Games 2021

  1. Interesting about the games and a good turn out of pipers and spectators. When quickly reading and perhaps not taking in the whole thing, I was intrigued about what a bleacher was, thinking, that canna’ be good for the fingers! And why would they have a bleach green at a highland games? Did they do their weekly washing at the highland games?—colourful! However, I now know what a bleacher is and I no longer have a garden seat! Nice to read the names of the pipers. It is a while since I have heard of Lyric Todkil and I hope it wasn’t illness that caused him not to play. I recall him on this side of the pond visiting along with Matt Pantaleoni.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.