Benefit planned to assist Highland Games, Tartan Thistle owners

Local singer-songwriter Beverly  Graham is organizing a benefit to make sure the show goes on at this year’s Highland Games. - submitted photo
Local singer-songwriter Beverly Graham is organizing a benefit to make sure the show goes on at this year’s Highland Games.
— image credit: submitted photo

A local singer is starting a benefit for organizers of the Whidbey Island Highland Games, who lost their inventory in a fire last year.

On May 30, 2007, fire ripped through Angus and Maureen MacDonald’s business warehouse, destroying all of their Highland Games inventory. The fire was part of an unsolved string of suspicious fires that happened over nearly a month throughout the South End.

For a while, the MacDonalds, who own The Tartan Thistle in Freeland, held out hope that insurance might cover at least part of their $250,000 loss of inventory and the house. But their hopes were dashed when the insurance claim came up empty.

“They lost all their inventory and the building it was kept in and the insurance company didn’t pay so they are having difficulty putting the games back on,” said Beverly Graham of Clinton.

“They are the impetus for the Highland Games on the island. If they go away or can’t do it, then the games won’t be here on the island,” she said.

When Graham heard the news from a friend that the games for this year were in jeopardy, she decided to gather a small group of people to see what could be done.

“The games bring in about 3,500 people every year,” she said, and attracts a lot of tourist dollars to Whidbey.

Graham is now organizing a benefit at Greenbank Farm to help out the MacDonalds; it’s tentatively set for March 8.

Graham said every dollar raised will help.

“We’re trying to put a little bit of a dent in that [$250,000 loss], so we’re hoping to get around $10,000, from as many as a couple hundred people,” she said.

There will be a “Men in Kilts” fashion show and Graham is still looking for men to fill the kilts. She is also working out the details to get a comedian from Seattle to travel to Greenbank, as well.

Helping others is old hat for Graham, the founder of OPERATION: Sack Lunch and a volunteer performer at many fundraisers on Whidbey.

“I work with people all the time whose lives have fallen apart and somehow, if there was some intervention, they might not have gone down the path they went down,” she said. “How do we reach out to the community in need? We do send out our money in a lot of different directions.”

“This island is a dichotomy between the poor people who couch surf or sleep in their car with their kids and the very rich,” Graham added.

“In my world, I thought that insurance would cover their (MacDonalds’) needs when I read the story last year. But that didn’t happen.”

For information on how to help with the event, call Graham at 341-1852.

Sheriff Mark Brown said the investigation into the fires continues. There are no suspects.

Spencer Webster can be reached at 221-5300 or swebster@southwhidbey

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