Take your clan to the Celtic Festival this weekend

Published 8:56 am Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Star File Photo The Maidens perform during last year's Celtic Festival.

Star File Photo
The Maidens perform during last year’s Celtic Festival.

Soon the sweet strains of fiddles, harps and penny whistles will float through the air as the clans gather for the annual Celtic Festival at Sycamore Shoals State Park.
Each year, the Upper East Tennessee Celtic Society hosts the festival at Sycamore Shoals State Park.
“It’s always a big draw and is one of our biggest events,” said Chad Bogart, an interpretive ranger at Sycamore Shoals.
This year, the festival will open with a special torch light ceremony Friday at 7 p.m. and events will continue on Saturday and Sunday.
The festival will include the many of the popular events that crowds expect to find every year as well as some new events and performances that will join the lineup this year.
“They are doing a 5k run/walk this year and that is new,” Bogart said. “They are calling it the Woad Warrior.”
The Woad plant was used to produce a natural blue dye and it was also used to make the blue body paint that Celtic warriors would use to adorn themselves before entering battle — think of the blue body paint seen on the Scottish warriors in the movie Braveheart.
The Woad Warrior event will also feature a Cyclo-cross race.
“They will be on park grounds,” Bogart said, adding staging for the races will take place in the picnic area next to the visitors center.
They Cyclo-cross race will be held Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m. while the 5k run/walk will take place at 5:50 p.m. on Saturday.
Also in the realm of athletics, the popular highland games will be held once again this year featuring popular events like the 16 pound shot put, sheaf toss and caber toss.
“There will be both a men’s and a women’s division this year,” Bogart said.
Another contest will be held on Saturday afternoon, though this one will have less of an athletic focus. At 3:45 on Saturday afternoon, a contest will be held to determine just who has the best knees in a kilt.
Several concerts will be held throughout the weekend featuring artists such as Sigean, Sandra Parker, Night Crossing and The Border Collies. And, what would a Celtic festival be without bagpipes? This year, Sarah Miller will serve as the festival’s official piper.
Attendees will also get to take in some traditional Irish stepdancing performances by Irish Skye Stepdance Team. New to the performance lineup this year will be Flying Hawkes Axe Throwing.
“My favorite thing in the whole festival is the Border Collies sheep herding,” Bogart said. The sheep herding exhibition will feature Bill Coburn, of South Carolina, and his team of Border Collies. Coburn has the dogs demonstrate herding techniques as they shepherd sheep and ducks for the audience.
A special concert will close out the activities on Saturday night and events will resume Sunday morning with a Scottish church service, Bogart said.
The torch light ceremony is free to the public, but activities on Saturday and Sunday require an admission fee. Tickets are $7 for ages 10 and up which children under the age of 9 are admitted free. Tickets to the special concert on Saturday evening are $12. Weekend passes are available for $20 and include admission to the events on Saturday and Sunday as well as the Saturday evening concert.
For more information on the festival, contact Sycamore Shoals State Park at 423-543-5808 or visit the website for the Upper East Tennessee Celtic Society at www.uppereasttncelticsociety.org.

Festival Schedule:

Friday: Amphitheatre
7 p.m. Torch Light Ceremony (free to the public)
8 p.m. Clan Reception (for Clan members only)

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Saturday: Main Stage Tent
10-10:30 a.m. Opening Ceremony
10:30-11:15 a.m. Maidens IV
11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Night Crossing
12:30-1:15 p.m. Kryss Dula & Friends
1:30-2:15 p.m. Sigean
2:30-3:15 p.m. Maidens IV
3:30-4:15p.m. Night Crossing
4:30-5:15 p.m. Celtic Jam Session with Kryss Dula (Open to all festival goers of any skill level)

Saturday: Main Stage Tent Ceilidh (Concert)
6 -7 p.m. Sigean
7:15-8:15 p.m. Kryss Dula & Friends
8:30-9:30 p.m. Night Crossing
9:45-11 p.m. Maidens IV

Sunday: Main Stage Tent
10-10:30 a.m. Kirkin of the Tartans (Church service)
10:30-11:15 a.m. Night Crossing
11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Maidens IV
12:30-1:15 p.m. Kryss Dula & Friends
1:30-2:15 p.m. Sigean
2:30-3:15 p.m. Maidens IV
3:30-4:15 p.m. Night Crossing
4:30-5:15 p.m. Celtic Jam Session with Kryss Dula & Friends (Open to all festival goers of any skill level)

Saturday and Sunday: Indoor Theater
11-11:15 a.m. Saturday, Irish Skye Dancers; Sunday, TBA
11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Sandra Parker
12:45-2:30 p.m. Pennywhistle classes
2:45-3 p.m. Irish Skye Dancers
3:15-3:45 p.m. Saturday, Best Knees In a Kilt Contest; Sunday, TBA
4-5 p.m. author Abbott Brayton