At 6-foot-8, weighing 300 pounds, with flowing locks falling onto his face, Colin Dunbar’s mom thinks he looks like a cross between Samson and Jesus. On Saturday he hoisted a 175-pound caber pole to his shoulder, and flipped it skyward as if it were a Louisville Slugger.
The fans at the 27th annual ScotsFestival at the Queen Mary droned a collective “ooooh.”
More than 8,000 people came for the first day of the event to watch Dunbar and dozens of other men and women compete in a variety of Scottish Highland games. Most of the contests involve hefting or hurling heavy things like rocks, poles and hay.
Dunbar is of Scottish descent and he had the chance to visit the homeland last year. (There’s a Dunbar Castle on the Eastern shore.)
“These games all reflect a culture of survival in harsh conditions,” Dunbar said. “You’re living off land that’s a rain-drenched swamp 10 months of the year. Farmers have to move boulders out of their fields, lumberjacks have to toss tree trunks into the rivers.”
Dunbar, a former Long Beach State track and field star, is in his second season as a pro. This weekend’s contests feature pro and amateur athletes in both men’s and women’s division.
The ScotsFestival continues through Sunday and also features Highland Dancing competitions. There are piping, drumming and marching contests with the grand parade passing by the Queen Mary at noon.
And the food. If sheep entrails are your thing, you’ll be able to find haggis somewhere in the shadow of the Queen (grab a glass of whiskey first to clean your palate).