Kilts and Bagpipes
Caloosahatchee Celtic Festival marks its 16th year
Being culturally curious is a trait most of us have, especially considering that we, and our ancestors, have almost all come to the United States from different parts of the world. Learning about other nations is interesting—and when you can’t go visit a culture in its land, let it come to you. The 16th Annual Caloosahatchee Celtic Festival will do just that from Jan. 25-26 at Centennial Park in Fort Myers.
According to statisticalatlas.com, more than 150,000 people out of Lee County’s nearly 750,000 residents have Celtic ancestry. Thus, many of our bloodlines come from what is known as the “Celtic fringe”: Brittany, Cornwall, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Scotland and Wales.
“Almost everybody can connect to Celtic nations,” says Kelly MacDonald, senior program coordinator at the city of Fort Myers. In the past 15 years, the festival has annually welcomed 5,000 to 6,000 attendees. MacDonald points out that it’s not only a celebration for those who are familiar with the Celtic culture, “It’s more of an impression to people who don’t know much about it.”
Although kilts and bagpipes aren’t in the mainstream fashion and music industries today, they are representative of the Celts— going back at least three centuries. And to that note, the festival will feature bands from Ireland and Scotland. Throughout Centennial Park, attendees will find crafters with merchandise made using timehonored skills, and re-enactors who create a historically accurate 1700s encampment. Visitors can also dive into traditional Celtic foods and drinks such as fish and chips, meat pies and Guinness beer.
The St. Andrew’s Society of Lee County and the Cape Coral Irish Club have booths, and the British Car Club of Southwest Florida displays 20 to 30 automobiles. The city of Fort Myers organizes the event in partnership with Celtic Heritage LLC.
“Putting smiles on faces was always the main goal of our late founder, Greg McGrath, and the Caloosahatchee Celtic Festival certainly does that,” explains Marcille Wallis, owner and manager of Celtic Heritage and a member of Marcille Wallis and Friends, one of the bands performing at the festival. For more information visit celticheritageproductions.com/ caloosahatchee.