Festival gives area a taste of Celtic culture, traditions

PARKERSBURG – Hundreds of people from around the Mid-Ohio Valley learned about and celebrated their Celtic ancestry at the City Park pavilion Saturday during the 2013 Scottish and Celtic Heritage Festival in Parkersburg.

“It’s nice to share our heritage with others,” said local potter Katie Ferguson. “The music is also fantastic because it makes you feel closer to home.”

Music performances were given by The Pipes and Drums of St. Andrews, professional Celtic/Appalachian storytellers, authors and singers Granny Sue and Lorna McDonald Czarnota and The Akron Ceili Band.

The Akron Ceili Band is non-traditional with bodhrans (Irish drums), guitars, whistles (known as feadogs in Ireland), mandolins and the occasional stand-up bass. Ceili (also spelled Ceilidh in Gaelic, and pronounced KAY-lee) is a time to get together with friends, family and neighbors to celebrate.

Festival committee member John Dye agreed with Ferguson’s comment on the music.

“All Celtic music has a great beat that makes you want to move and dance,” Dye said. “There is something about it that pulls at you and makes you really enjoy it.”

During the opening ceremonies, members of the St. Andrews Pipe and Drum Corps and the Capt. James Neal Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution from Parkersburg served as color guard.

Saturday’s festival also included other things to do, including learning about family history and genealogy. There were veteran genealogists present who are also members of the Sons of the American Revolution and Daughters of the American Revolution helping those interested researching their roots.

“I have really enjoyed the event so far,” said Lorna McDonald Czarnota, a professional storyteller, Celtic singer and dulcimer player from Buffalo, N.Y. “I have been to a number of other Celtic festivals and it shows the Celts are unique with a real love for music and food.”

While hot dogs and other grilled foods were available, Scottish and Welsh traditional foods including Welsh cookies that are made on a griddle instead of baked in the oven, as well as haggis, the national dish of Scotland, were also available.

Artisans included handcrafted wooden love spoons, which are part of Welsh folklore that told of love spoons carved of a single piece of wood conveying a heartfelt message.

Ferguson demonstrated her pottery craft while she also designed and created a special item to be raffled during the event.

“This is a great way for us to celebrate where the majority of Americans can trace their roots,” Dye said. “This festival is a way for us to connect and enjoy where we have been.”