As a child growing up in South Uist in the late 1950s and in the 1960s, the annual jamboree event for us was the annual Games held on the machair field at Askernish. It was held on the third Wednesday of July, in the first week of the Glasgow Fair Fortnight, when hundreds of exiled Gaels would take the long ferry journey back home to rest from the shipyards and elsewhere.

It was a day of wonder for us children: balloons and sweets and races to the constant sound of pipe music, and men wrestling and running and throwing huge weights over extraordinarily high bars. Eachann Stab (Hector Wilson) was one of the local heroes, who could throw the weight higher than most: he should have been in the Olympics.

For pipers, especially, the South Uist Games were legendary. One of the most important dates in the Highland Games calendar, to win the Ceòl Mòr (Pìobaireachd) was like being declared world champion: as the great modern piper Fred Morrison puts it: "South Uist and piping is a bit like Brazil and football".

Older piping afficianados still speak with reverence of players such as Seonaidh Roidein (Pipe Major John MacDonald) of Daliburgh and of another great local player, Rona MacDonald Lightfoot, who broke through the gender ceiling a few decades ago.

But as with Brazil and their football, things are perhaps not as rosy as once they were for these famous Games. This year’s events took place yesterday, with only seven senior pipers competing in the Ceòl Mòr. That’s not because pipers are in short supply (there are probably more than ever) but simply because even pipers can’t be in two places at once.

The equally famous Inverary Games take place the day before the South Uist ones and traditionally pipers would compete in Campbell country before heading west on the ferry into MacDonald territory. But three years ago the organisers of the Scottish Pipe Band Championships moved their event from May to the third Saturday in July and that seems to hinder a number of pipers from travelling to Uist for the local games.

It’s a great pity. It may not quite be David versus Goliath, but it seems a shame that the smaller, local events are paying a price for the major events such as the Scottish Championships.

But Highland Games are also suffering more generally.This past week the games at Rosenath and Stonehaven were cancelled due to bad weather (flooded fields) and the games at Balloch last Saturday valiantly struggled on through wind and rain. Playing a pìobaireachd such as Fhuair mi pòg o làimh on Righ (I got a kiss from the King’s hand) is challenging enough in any circumstances, without global warming having a say.

Perhaps the marvel is that these local games, with their important traditions, have survived at all. In this age with all its instant attractions by the fireside, it’s still lovely that locals and visitors gather round village spaces to watch amateurs do their best.

There may, of course, be a double-edged image problem. Pipe bands and kilts and big men throwing hammers and cabers and stones may attract a certain type of clientele, but it ain’t Taylor Swift on the revolving stage. And it creates a specific image of the Highlands that has troubled some for long enough: not quite Brigadoon, but skirting (or kilting) by it. The Braemar Gathering, with its royal presence, is the best – or worst – example, where some kind of faux allegiance to the chieftain is visually verified, with many a Gaelic-less Bonnie Prince Charlie strutting the stage.

But we are all visitors some time or other. I’ve recently returned from New York, and I too immediately took iPhone pictures of Central Park, the NYPD cars, the Statue of Liberty and so forth. I would have been greatly disappointed to have seen a different reality from the one I had imagined. Our economy prospers from the hundreds of thousands who visit and who would be heartbroken to find a land shorn of shortbread, whisky, kilts, bagpipes and men throwing cabers.

Give them what they want, I say, and enjoy it. But above all, travel west and spend a day at Askernish.You will hear some fantastic piping, meet some wonderful people and hear Gaelic spoken.That itself makes the Games. They are, after all, not really sporting or musical occasions, but social ones, where the sun shines, even while it rains.

Angus-Peter Campbell (Aonghas Pàdraig Caimbeul) is a writer, actor, and journalist. He was born and brought up on South Uist and lives in Kyle of Lochalsh.