The Elk Mountain Highland Games and May Day: An Eclectic, Family-Friendly Event
For centuries, traditional agrarian societies throughout Europe have celebrated the changing of seasons and the fertility of our planet with a May Day festival. By then, most farmers have finished seeding their fields and are ready to feast, play music and dance around the May Pole.
If any of that sounds appealing, be sure to check out the third annual Elk Mountain Highland Games and May Day taking place on April 30 and May 1 at the Evans Valley Education and Community Center. The Center is located in the small community of Wimer. The two-day event features live music along with a series of demos and workshops, including blacksmiths at work and knights wielding long swords, javelins and other medieval weaponry, as well as some low-key Games of Thrones skill-building also available, like building an earthen oven and spinning wool into thread.
The Highland Games also add a competitive dimension to the festival. Akin to a Scottish strong-man competition, the Games incorporate heavy athletic events like the caber toss and the stone put. Since the festival is geared towards families, children eight years and older are invited to participate in the competition. Adults will compete at 9 am and the kids will take the field around 10:30 am each day.
Mike Ivan, the event organizer, calls it “a funky renaissance fair.” He had the idea for a May Day event a few years ago when the Community Center was looking for ways to raise funds.
The property at 8205 E. Evans Creek Rd. was originally the site of the Evans Valley Elementary School, which was shut down by the Rogue River School District in 2010. Local citizens then got together to form a non-profit organization and they successfully repurchased the land from the district two years later. The Evans Valley Education and Community Center is the result of their determination to return the school to the community that built it.
“The property we have is 28 acres and it’s a really nice, woodsy property. We thought it’d be a really fitting place to have a Highland Games event and add a little Celtic flavor to it,” Ivan says, adding that one of the most popular attractions in years past has been the edged weapons competition, featuring a sword course as well as axe, knife and spear throwing. The May Pole itself has also been a big hit, especially with the little ones.
All proceeds from the festival go toward renovating the school building and supporting various projects around the property. According to Ivan, who calls the building “an old girl with old parts,” says the first priority is to fix the leaky roof and install an HVAC system.
“We’re just trying to create a grassroots community center,” Ivan says. “It’d be nice to have a place where you can play basketball in the winter, maybe have a community garden.”
So come out to support a local community or just come for the fun of it. Either way we’ll see you around the May Pole.
Elk Mountain Highland Games and May Day
10 am – 3 pm, Saturday and Sunday, April 30 and May 1
Evans Valley Education and Community Center, 8205 E. Evans Creek Road, Wimer
$10, adults. $5, children. Free, kids 10 and under.
Two day passes: $15, adults. $10, children.