Celtic Fling & Highland Games kick off June 22

By on June 20, 2018

Barleyjuice works the crowd during the 2016 Celtic Fling at Mount Hope Estate & Winery (LNP file photos)

The Celtic Fling & Highland Games return to the grounds of the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire Friday through Sunday, June 22 to 24. The 20th annual celebration of traditional and contemporary Celtic heritage will be held at 2775 Lebanon Road, Manheim.

“We call it one big party. It’s a world of its own, and it’s the event where everyone can be Celtic. Even though it’s the 20th anniversary of the event, we’re not doing anything special to mark that milestone; there’s so much already going on,” said Candace Smith, director of sales and communications for the PA Ren Faire.

She’s been around for all 20 years.

“It’s grown so much over the years. It’s been successful from year one, and it has a huge impact on the county. Shortly after one year’s event is over, people call us asking for the dates of next year’s event — they want to make hotel reservations. I think there’s a crossover from the Faire; people are interested in Celtic history,” she said.

It’s also a good fit for the area and its heritage: the Faire, which is located on the grounds of Mount Hope Estate & Winery, is in Rapho Township. According to the township’s website, it was first settled by people of Scotch-Irish descent. Additionally the name Rapho is “derived from a parish of the same name in Donegal, Ireland.”

Festivities begin Friday evening with a concert featuring Gaelic Storm, joined by the Screaming Orphans, House of Hamill and The Fitzgeralds. Gates open at 4 p.m., and Smith said the Globe Stage will double as the concert stage.

Food from the Faire’s kitchens and Swashbuckler Beers, Lancaster County Ciders and Mount Hope Wines will be available for purchase. The concert requires a separate ticket from the weekend Celtic Fling.

Saturday and Sunday’s events will open with the traditional sounds of Rannoch Pipe & Drum Band. Saturday and Sunday’s schedules include musical entertainment on six non-stop stages including Albannach, Enter the Haggis, The Pigeon Kings, and Kilmaine Saints. Smith said Scottish-born Albannach, makes the Celtic Fling a stop on their U.S. tour. She describes the band’s music as “what would have been played by a band leading a Scottish army to battle.”

Richard Snedden tries his hand at the 22-pound stone toss at a previous Highland Games event.

The Celtic Fling also offers opportunities to learn about Scotch and Irish traditions.

“We have a traditional Irish wake and demonstrations from a weaver, as well as other living history opportunities. You can learn about clans and their plaids or Irish wolfhounds. We even have the 69th PA Irish volunteers, a Civil War group of reenactors, doing an encampment,” Smith explained.

The good available for purchase on the grounds also takes on a Celtic flair. Kitchens will serve items including corned beef and cabbage, bangers and mash, and the ever-popular Scotch Eggs. Swashbuckler Beers, Lancaster County Ciders, and Mount Hope Wines will be available to accompany the vast menu. Smith said in addition to over 100 resident Faire shops, there will be special guest merchants offering unique wares.

Saturday, the Celtic Fling Feis, officially sanctioned by the North American Feis Commission, will host over 1,000 Irish dancers ranging from beginner to champion, to compete in the traditional hard shoe and elegant soft shoe jigs and reels that are at the heart of the Irish culture.

Visitors can also witness the athleticism of traditional Celtic sports through The Highland Games competition, officially sanctioned by the Mid-Atlantic Scottish Athletics Association. The games will feature pre-registered athletes competing in the Scottish Hammer, Sheaf Toss, Clachneart and Caber Toss.

“These are professional athletes competing in traditional Highland games. It’s pretty amazing to watch the competition,” Smith said.

Sunday’s schedule will begin with an Irish breakfast and Catholic Mass held in the in the new Barn & Barrel area adjacent to the winery and brewery. Adults seeking to try their hand at hurling a caber or tossing a sheaf will have their chance.

After a second full day of Fling excitement, the festivities will wrap up Sunday evening with a concert by The Elders. This concert is included in the Sunday admission price.

Discounted advance tickets are on sale at PaRenFaire.com. Smith said with so much to see and do, a two-day pass is the best value. However she reminds patrons that Friday night’s concert is a separate ticket.

Rochelle Shenk is a correspondent for the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your comments and questions at RAASHENK@aol.com.

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