AVERY COUNTY, N.C. — Steve Kelley, 89, travels to Avery County from South Carolina every year. 

"I've got more Scottish in me than the average Scot," Kelley said.


What You Need to Know

The Highland Games were back in Avery County

The games bring in people from all over the world

Steve Kelley has been volunteering at the games for more than 50 years


Kelley comes back every year to volunteer at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, an annual Scottish celebration of music, food and field games. It's a tradition for families going back generations. The 65th annual event took place July 7-11.

He remembers his first trip like it was yesterday. A friend told him about the event, and he drove down from West Virginia to be a part of the action in 1967.

"We made music all night, and I danced. I step danced a whole lot. My ankles got big around," Kelley said.

That trip to the mountains of North Carolina changed his life completely. 

"Right down there in the corner down there, Frank was playing the fiddle, and there was this gal with a white streak in her hair, and she was step dancing to that, and I thought she can't be all that bad," Kelley said.

That gal became his wife. The two are about to be married for 50 years.

"This is a family. I have seen kids back then meet young ladies, marry, come back to the games and eventually come back with their children and their grandchildren," Kelley said.

Kelley says these Scottish games are now known to be the largest in the world. People come in from all over to compete.

He will never forget the memories here, the people he's met and the stories he's heard.