2020 Aztec Highland Games cancelled amid ongoing coronavirus pandemic

Matt Hollinshead, mhollinshead@daily-times.com

FARMINGTON – The 10th annual Aztec Highland Games were cancelled amid concerns of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re positive mass gatherings aren’t going to be allowed in time,” event coordinator Christa Chapman said. “There’s been so much uncertainty. It takes us all year to plan… We didn’t feel like it’d be safe in October.”

The Aztec Highland Games, originally scheduled for Oct. 3 and 4, celebrate Celtic culture with live music, dancing and various athletic events. Those competitions include caber tossing, where contestants throw a giant log, and sheaf tossing, where one throws a bundle of straw vertically over a raised bar using a pitchfork.

Chapman said the event draws in multiple people from neighboring Arizona and Texas, and that the announcing crew comes from California.

“If it was just a local event, it’d be a different consideration,” Chapman said.

Chapman also said at least a third of the attendees are 65 or older and at higher risk for contracting COVID-19.

“They’re particularly in our minds,” Chapman said. “We decided it’s best we play it safe.”

Chapman said finances and travel expenses also factored into the decision to not go forward with this year’s event.

“It’s complicated,” Chapman said. “We’re not sure people are comfortable to travel… we usually book out all the hotels in Aztec.”

Nathan Lindeburg competes in the hammer throw Saturday during the Aztec Highland Games and Celtic Festival at Riverside Park in Aztec.

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 and on Twitter at @MattH_717.

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A contestant tosses a caber, Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019, during the Aztec Highland Games.
A contestant participates in the stone-put competition, Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019, during the Aztec Highland Games.