Area residents and visitors may enjoy a taste of Celtic heritage without crossing the Atlantic Ocean.
The Morven Park International Equestrian Center in Leesburg will be transformed into a living history the weekend of June 11-12 as 18,000 to 20,000 people are expected at the 12th Annual Potomac Celtic Festival. The event will highlight the nation of Wales this year and offer a variety of new workshops ranging from Celtic topiaries to dance heritage to Irish Civil War influence. To add some action to the event, Frederick Rugby of Frederick, Md., will feature men's and women's rugby matches both days.
THE POTOMAC CELTIC Festival celebrates the culture and heritage of the seven Celtic Nations of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Isle of Man, Brittany, Galicia and Cornwall.
Scotland's Battlefield Band, Dublin's Grada, Waldes' Ffynnon, award-winning fiddler Jeremy Kittel, D.C.'s own Iona and Tinsmith, Beth Patterson, Moch Pryderi, Trasna, Magie Sansone, Eileen Niehouse, and Mac Talla will perform on the eight stages set up in a meadow. "Every year we get bigger as far as the bands we have," said David Boyd, treasurer of the Barnaby Council for Celtic Studies.
Gaelic Storm will play high energy Celtic rock at Saturday night's "NiteFest!" in the Pub Tent. "They are a big draw. They're known internationally," Boyd said Tuesday.
David Kincaid, a musician and historian, will present the songs and history of the Irish in the American Civil War. He sings authentic Irish songs of both the Union and the Confederacy. His music has been used in several documentary films. Recently, he served as a consultant and performer in the Hollywood Civil War film "Gods and Generals."
CLANS AND SOCIETIES will be on hand to help visitors trace their lineage. In addition to crafters and artisans, dancers and other performers will be on hand to entertain people of all ages. Arts and crafts will be available for children and ethnic foods for everyone.
The festival also will feature poets and storytellers of Celtic lore.
Living History camps will portray Celtic life from the Iron Age to the modern Celtic warrior in World War I. Visitors will learn how to prepare a meal, make tools and clothing and defend the home Ñ the old way Ñ at an Arthurian, 550 AD, camp.
At a 1917 Living History camp, participants will check out the muddy trench in Flanders where the Irish Guards brew a cup of tea before they join the "war to end all wars."
Boyd said he expects to see a lot of old friends during the weekend celebration. "People come back every year, because they love it," he said.
Cindy Marlow, president of the Barnaby Council for Celtic Studies, said she is looking forward to having Cheryl Mitchell staff the Celtic Heritage Corner. Mitchell is "a local legend when it comes to anything Welsh," Marlow said.
Leesburg Mayor Kristen Umstattd said the town's cultural history dates back to 1758. "The community is happy to host your event that continues to celebrate that culture each year," she wrote in a welcoming letter to all attendees.
British Ambassador David Manning, in a letter to the festival's organizers, said the event "highlights the best that Wales has to offer in arts and music."
The Potomac Celtic Festival has 200 paid staff members and another 300 volunteers. A board of directors meets year-round to plan the event, which is hosted by the Barnaby Council for Celtic Studies.