Irish renaissance

Celtic Fest Ohio mixes old and new

By Kevin Tucker

Like clockwork, festivals of all shapes and sizes materialize annually around the Miami Valley to decorate the landscape come summer and fall. Throw one more fête into the ubiquitous mix this year with the unveiling of the inaugural Celtic Fest Ohio, slated for June 17–19 on the grounds of the Ohio Renaissance Festival located outside of Waynesville.

“The event will offer something for all ages,” says Cheryl Bucholtz, marketing coordinator for Brimstone & Fire, LLC, festival producers. “From the food to the shopping to the entertainment to the children’s area. It will be a great, fun time in a very unique setting.’

To that end, the festival will be staged at Renaissance Park in Harveysburg. As such, it presents a functional and convenient location for a start-up venture, according to Bucholtz.

“Why not this location? It’s already set up to accommodate a large festival atmosphere in the triangle of Dayton, Columbus and Cincinnati,” she says. “The setting makes this festival unique. Being on the grounds of the Renaissance Festival gives an intimate village feel. The entertainment lineup also makes the festival unique. We’re bringing in groups and performers that may not be part of the typical Celtic festival circuit.”

Entertainment Director David Smith says that both traditional and modern bands will be featured at the festival including: 7 Nations, Father Son and Friends, Dulahan, Jameson’s Folly, Saxon Moon, Cu Dubh, among others. Spectators can fully expect to be serenaded by the sounds of “bagrock,” which introduces bagpipes to rock-n-roll to create a sound all its own, Smith explains.

One featured attraction, which others vying for patronage this festival season will be unable to claim, is a performance by the inimitable Red Hot Chilli Pipers, hailing from Scotland. Not to be confused with the venerable California punk/funk band fronted by Anthony Kiedis of similar name, the self-proclaimed “most famous bagpipe band on the planet,” is just one of the innumerable entertainment, food and vendor options that will be available to patrons attending the fest.

In addition to musical and dancing entertainment, there is plenty more to see and do for all ages, according to Smith. There will be bouncy houses, a maze, archery, axe-throwing games, Border collie herding demonstrations and several Scottish clans in attendance.

Food will be plentiful with an eclectic selection ranging from Celtic and Middle Eastern cuisine, to BBQ to local favorite, Zombie Dogz. Beer and mead tastings will be conducted throughout the day and there will also be a large collection of vendors for those looking to take a keepsake home with them.

Produced by Brimstone & Fire, LLC, who also produces the Ohio Renaissance Festival, Celtic Fest Ohio is a stand-alone event not associated with any other Celtic-themed event or festival. The new festival was originated because there existed an outlet for this type of an event, Bucholtz explains. She expects that approximately 25,000 people to attend the gathering during its three-day span.

“The team at Brimstone & Fire are also very experienced in putting together a large festival, so we’re looking at the opportunity and our experience and jumping on it,” she says.

So why do Celtic festivals and events seem to be so popular? Bucholtz suggests it could have something to do with the historical lineage of those living in our region.

“I think any event promoting a multicultural interest is hugely popular,” she says. “And there is a large history involving the Scottish and Irish heritage in southwestern Ohio.” But you don’t have to be Irish to enjoy the festival, she adds.

According to the website Shoreline.edu, the Celts were a European cultural group first evident in the 7th or 8th century B.C. Referred to as “barbarians” by both the Romans and the Greeks, they arrived in Britain by the 4th or 5th century B.C., and subsequently in Ireland a century or two later. They eventually displaced all the native inhabitants of the islands. Gaels, Gauls, Britons, Irish and Galatians were all Celtic people.

There are several specific and ancient types of Celtic festivals. A feis is a traditional Gaelic arts and cultural festival. In Ancient Ireland communities placed great importance on local festivals where Gaels could come together in song, dance, music, theatre and sport. Today, the feis has experienced something of a rebirth, both for ethnic Gaels and for the enthusiasts of the Gaelic culture. These festivals eventually morphed into those celebrated in the States.

Of Irish heritage, Molly Michelbrink is an avid festival-goer and likes the Dayton Celtic Festival best because of the music and the merchandise. She plans on attending Celtic Fest Ohio to see how it compares.

“If it’s anything like the one they have in Dayton, it’s going to be a great event,” she claims.

If the new kid on the block does succeed, it won’t be through lack of effort.

“We are doing what we do best,” Smith says. “The Ohio Renaissance Festival has a long history of having a great entertainment event. We are extending that into the Celtic Festival world. We want those who have been here before to come have fun and introduce themselves to a whole new crowd.”

Celtic Fest Ohio takes place at the Ohio Renaissance Festival Grounds, 317 Brimstone Rd. in Waynesville. The festival runs 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, June 18 and 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday, June 19 with a free sneak preview at the 1572 Roadhouse Bar-B-Q 6-10 p.m. Friday, June 17. One-day admission is $10, and weekend passes are $15. All kids 12 and under are free. For more information and a full schedule, please visit celticfestohio.com.
Reach DCP freelance writer Kevin Tucker at KevinTucker@DaytonCityPaper.com

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