The first annual Jackson Hole Burns Night was held in 1997. It was held at Kip & Lynn MacMillan’s house, with eight people in attendance, including Jackson Police Chief David Cameron and his wife Sandy, George Larson, executive director of the Jackson Hole Airport, and his wife Jan. A piper from the National Parks performed.
At dinner that night, David Cameron conceived of the idea of hosting a Jackson Hole Highland Games festival. Unfortunately he died tragically in a home accident before the idea came to fruition.
Jackson Hole Highland Games
In 2001, David Macfarlane became the first official President of the Wyoming Highlanders. He established it as a 501(c)(3) non-profit. It had a flourishing membership and featured events such as Burns Night, St. Andrews Day and Tartan Day activities. David Macfarlane established the first Jackson Hole Highland Games in 2002.
The Games were a success, growing larger each year, with dance competitions, band piping competitions and well known Celtic musical acts performing. A Highland ceilidh was held the night before. These were exciting times for the Wyoming Highlanders but the 2008 economic crisis had a strong impact on the Games’ funding, with various state and regional arts councils eliminating or greatly reducing funds to the Games. At the same time, the core group of volunteers that made the Games happen, had one-by-one been moving away from Jackson. With his own family responsibilities pressing on him and limiting his availability, David decided the 2012 Games would be the last.
GO HERE to see some photographs and videos from these games.
In 2017, Ed Cunningham became the 2nd President of the Wyoming Highlanders joining original board officers David Macfarlane as Past-President, Kip McMillan as Treasurer and Peter Moyer as Secretary.
Ed lives part-time in the Scottish Highlands. He has a passion for Highlander history and owns the historic Culloden House Hotel in Inverness, Scotland. Culloden House was the lodging and battlefield headquarters where Bonnie Prince Charlie lived prior to the bloody and fateful Battle of Culloden. It is estimated that there are 20 millions Scots living worldwide as a result of the diaspora arising out of this single battle.
In 2017, the Wyoming Highlanders adopted the Ammon Scottish Festival – the closest Highland Games to Jackson – providing matching seed money with the City of Ammon for the 2nd annual event. Ammon is located 1.5 hours away, just outside of Idaho Falls. The festival was founded and run by longtime friends of the Wyoming Highlanders, The Teton District Performing Arts.
In 2017, the Board expanded its charitable outreach to include wounded veterans via the Jackson Hole Therapeutic Riders’ V.E.T. program.