02 October 2001

The big event over the weeked was attending Bethlehem, Pennsylvania's 3-day Celtic Classic, highland games and festival. It's the largest festival of it's kind in North America and always is a blast. It includes Irish, Scottish, and Welsh traditions and heritage. What's more, due to corporate sponsorship, the festival is free.

Among the events are highland games (caber toss, stone put, hammer throw, etc.), a border collie exhibition, a haggis eating contest, highland dance and Irish dance contests and shows, a pipe band competition, whiskey tasting, as well as historical re-enactments of a Civil War Irish volunteer regiment and of medieval Celts by the Society for Creative Anachronism.

In addition there are hundreds of vendors offering Irish linen, Scottish woolens, kilts, Celtic jewelry, music, books, genealogy and clan information, Irish crystal, baked goods such as shortbread or soda bread, pottery, silver, and so on.

Food offerings included corned beef and cabbage, haggis, shepherd's pie, Cornish pasties, bridies, and the like.

But the best part of the Celtic Classic, of course, is always the music. There are five stages with live bands playing all day, each day. The various performances this year included Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser, Seamus Eagan and his group Solas, John Wehlan (of Riverdance) and his band, Clandestine, Blackwater, Aoife Clancy (daughter of Bobby Clancy of the Clancy Brothers), and about 15 others. The younger crowd seemed to particularly enjoy a band called Brother led by two Australian Scots, Hamish and Angus Richardson, who combine a rock band with highland bagpipes and didgeridoo.

Gosh, it's awesome being a Celt!