Niagara Celtic Festival kicks off Saturday in Olcottby jmaloni
The 12th annual Niagara Celtic Heritage Festival and Highland Games will take place in Olcott on Saturday, Sept. 15, and Sunday, Sept. 16, at Krull Park in historic Olcott Beach.
Recently, Krull Park was honored with a second-place finish in Coca-Cola's "America's Favorite Park Contest," and took home a $50,000 prize after receiving more than 21 million votes. The Niagara Celtic Heritage Festival has been held at Krull Park each year since 2002.
This year, the festival grounds have been split into eight regions so that festivalgoers have an easier time finding the events and attractions they want to attend.
An array of special events take place, including two ceremonial parades each day, featuring clan groups, bagpipe bands, re-enactors, a re-creation of the marine landing of the Bonnie Prince Charlie, and an evening jam session of Celtic musicians called a "Siesiun."
Last year, 12,000 people attended the festival. That number continues to grow each year. The Celtic Festival features a diverse selection of activities, including its latest offering: a "Celtic College," where attendees can learn firsthand about genealogy and how to play bagpipes.
The festival also celebrates the history and pride of the Scottish people at the clan row. The living history component features re-enactors from all over the region. There is a wonderful array of animal demonstrations and a petting zoo, as well.
One of the most popular features of the festival is the "Kid's Corner," which features a bubble center, face-painting, Irish games, castle-ring toss and many other child-friendly activities.
More than 30 musical acts are appearing on three stages, ranging from regional acts to international favorites. The culminating musical event is a Saturday night "Ceilidh" (pronounced kay-lee) headlined by the Glengarry Bhoys, along with Penny Whiskey and the McMahon School of Dance.
For sports fans, the festival features a "Highland Games" competition. The centuries-old strongman competition features events such as a caber pole toss, stone throw, and weights thrown for distance. There are professional and amateur divisions, and this year a "beat the pros" contest.