May Day Festival set for May 1 at Sycamore Shoals

Published 9:36 am Monday, April 25, 2016

May Day Festival Poster
On Sunday, May 1, the Upper East Tennessee Celtic Society is inviting everyone to come gather around the maypole for a “May Day” full of family fun.
The annual May Day Festival will be held at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area from 1-4 p.m. on Sunday, May 1 and will feature a wide variety of activities for all ages. The festival is free to attend.
“It started out as just a small gathering for the society members and as a way to recruit new members,” said Justine Kinch, events director for UETCS. “Now it’s grown into a festival size event.” This will mark the sixth year that the Society has held the May Day Festival.
This year, visitors to the festival will be treated to live music, dancing, a demonstration handfasting ceremony, Scottish highland games and, of course, a chance to dance around the maypole. Festival goers can also compete for prizes in costume contests for both children and adults. Costumes can include clan animals, the Greenman, a fairy or any other Celtic related costume — whether real or mythical. Visitors are encouraged to dress up even if they do not wish to participate in the contests.
One of the events Kinch is looking forward to this year is the Welsh Spelling Bee, which is new to the festival.
“The Welsh Spelling Bee is going to be a lot of fun,” she said.
But don’t be worried if your Welsh is a bit rusty, or perhaps non-existant.
“It’s going to be sort of a multiple choice guessing game,” Kinch said with a laugh.
The game host will say a word in English and contestants will be given multiple spellings to choose from for the correct corresponding Welsh word. At the end of the game, the contestant with the most correct answers — or guesses — will win.
“It’s going to be very basic beginner words,” Kinch assured.
The festival will also feature a variety of craft persons and vendors, and food will be available at the event, Kinch said.
While the music and games are always fun, Kinch said her favorite part of the May Day Festival is getting to see the smiles on the faces of people enjoying themselves.
“I think my favorite part is everbody getting together and remembering the things they did as kids, like dancing around the maypole, and restarting that tradition with their own children,” she said. “Everyone is smiling and dancing around. It’s kind of silly at first, and then you get into it.”
The Upper East Tennessee Celtic Society will also have a booth set up at the festival to share information about the Society and sign up new members. Cost for membership in the Society is $10 for one person, $15 for a couple and $25 for a family.
For more information on the May Day Festival or the Upper East Tennessee Celtic Society, visit them online at or find them on Facebook at

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