The way Marcelo Derousseau sees it, the heavy lifting performed on the field of competition will help drive the future of the Kerr County Celtic Festival. Derousseau, who lives in Kerrville, drew praise from the competitors of the games portion of the festival, and those competitors traveled from all over Texas to compete in Ingram at the Hill Country Arts Foundation.
One of those competitors was Ryan Kidder of Rockwall — a bustling suburb east of Dallas. Kidder competes in 10 Highland Games per year around the state, and Kerr County is one of his favorite events.
"You can't beat the Hill Country and the weather," said Kidder, who also praised Derousseau's management of the games. Kidder was leading early in the putting competition with a toss of more than 33-feet.
In the games, competitors must compete in the following events:
- Putting the stone, think shot-putting a 16- to 22-pound rock for men and a 13-18 pound rock for women.
- Throwing the weights for distance is where men throw a 28-56 chained weight — with one hand. Same discipline for women, but it's 14-28 pounds.
- Throwing the hammers, and this one is fun to watch. Men throw a 16-22 pound hammer connected to a long handle, and the women throw them from 12-16 pounds. But watch out because these things can get loose.
- Tossing the caber is one of the signature events, and competitors said Derosseau's collection of the wooden poles to toss in the state of Texas.
- Tossing the sheaf is where competitors launch a burlap bag filled with stuff (mulch, etc. ) with a pitchfork. The men's competition features a 20-pound bag, while the women's bag is 12 pounds.
- Tossing the weight for height is another well-loved event where men throw a 56-pound weight as high as they can, while women use a 28-pound weight.
Max Mata, a 21-year-old from San Antonio, said he loved competing and appreciated the support from older and more experienced competitors.
"Everyone is great," said Mata, adding there's a need for some younger competitors. "It's cheerful."
The stone-putting judge, Patricia Carrington, describes the event as one of support and fun.
"This is a unique sport where you have competitors who give tips on how to get better," said Carrington, who has been competing for 11 years in the women's events. "It's one of the most supportive events I've ever seen."
Next year, the event's management will pass from the Kerr County Celtic Association to the Hill Country Arts Foundation, and Derousseau said that would help scale the event in the years to come.
"These games would be here even without the festival," said Derousseau, adding he was pleased with the turnout on Saturday afternoon.
Last year's event was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, and Saturday's event was one of the biggest in the festival's history.
"It's good to see the festivals coming back," said Carrington, who drove in from Austin to judge and compete.