THE Famous Alva Games is set to return this weekend with organisers expecting a bumper crowd after two years of pandemic heartbreak.

Work to set the scene at the Cochrane and Johnstone Parks got underway last week for what will be the re-arranged 164th Famous Alva Games.

Spectators and competitors are expected to arrive on Saturday, July 9, from near and far for the traditional highland games with athletics, grass track cycling, highland dancing, heavyweight events, hill races including the British Hill Race Championship, pipe band performances as well as extensive funfair and trade and craft stands.

For the first time in recent memory, hopes are to see more than 100 participants in the flagship hill race, the previous record being 99 entries.

It will be a close contest with three previous champions already signed up, one even coming out of retirement.

The games were last able to go ahead in 2019 but “non-opening” ceremonies, quizzes, bingo nights and more kept townspeople in the loop during the pandemic.

Craig Dunbar, games secretary, told the Advertiser how much the event has been missing from the Wee County calendar.

He said: “I didn't realise until I went back to start it just how much I missed it.

“It's been a lot of work just picking it up and remembering what I do when.”

Craig and the team have been hard at work and the seating was already erected last week for the spectators.

The games secretary is “hugely” looking forward to the event, especially the flagship and gruelling British Championship Hill Race, which will start at around 4.15pm on the day.

It is the one event people can enter on the day and around half of participants tend to do so.

Craig said: “I'm sitting at over 60 [signed up] for the adult race, if you double that that's going to be monstrous – in the right way.

“The previous record in the hill race was 99, I'm pretty hopeful we'll burst the 100 this year and we have three formal winners running this year as well.”

There will also be a huge field of highland dancers who will begin performing at 10.30am on the day, while the heavyweight events will begin at 12.30pm and will include shot putt, hammer and caber tossing and more.

Track events on the day will start at 12noon with the official opening ceremony at 1pm.

Even before games day, a funfair will operate every evening from today, Wednesday July 6.

Alva will be hosting the only highland games around the area this weekend and, after two years of “incarceration”, Craig is expecting a bumper crowd for “some pleasant normality”.

He has also been dealing with one or two inquiries from overseas each day as well with people from the US, Canada, France, Germany and more expected.

Craig added: "I am extremely grateful to all our local businesses, shops, patrons, sponsors who have stuck with us.”