Kilts and Bag­pipes

Caloosa­hatchee Celtic Fes­ti­val marks its 16th year

Times of the Islands - - In The Communty - For more in­for­ma­tion visit celticher­itage­pro­duc­ caloosa­hatchee.

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 sta­tis­ti­ca­lat­, 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.

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