This year marks the fourth time the Highland Festival of Garrett County Inc. has held the event in Friendsville. It used to be called the McHenry Highland Festival and took place at the Garrett County Fairgrounds.
Festival organizer Marci McClive discussed her group’s plans during the Friendsville Town Council meeting last week.
“I’ve been around to the other Celtic festivals in the area, up as far as New York state, and this is the most beautiful place,” she said about Friendsville. “And the sound of the music down here is just outstanding, and I’m a piper.”
New activities for this year, McClive reported, include the Fleece a’ Flying dogs herding sheep and ducks, plus a presentation by Alfonso Diaz, known as the “Scythe Man.”
“He’s a very interesting guy,” she said about Diaz, who grew up in Asturias, a Celtic region of Spain. “He’s going to be scything, and he’s always willing to challenge anyone who wants to bring a weed-wacker. He always has a little contest.”
McClive said Diaz will talk about the ergonomics of scything and the health aspects of using the traditional crop reaping or “mowing” tool.
Mayor Spencer Schlosnagle noted the grass in certain areas of the park has intentionally been left to grow so that Diaz could hold his cutting demonstrations and contests.
“The kids’ activities are amazing,” McClive said. “We had over 100 kids last year.”
The Rainbow’s End Children’s Area will feature craft stations, costumes, fairy gardens, face painting, Highland games, and stories and songs presented by performers.
Children age 10 and younger will have free admission to the festival. For youth ages 11-18, the cost is $5.
“We’re trying to make it easier on families,” McClive said. “We hope everyone in Friendsville comes.”
The day’s activities include a parade and gathering of area pipe and drum bands; Scottish athletic competitions; presentations about Celtic history, customs and traditions; musical performances by IONA, Aurora Celtic and Shanty Irish; musical presentations on Celtic pipes, Scottish border pipes, the hammered dulcimer and Celtic harp; Scottish and Irish dance contests; Celtic walking songs, laments and love songs by Ellen Wilds; readings and commentary by Irish author Patricia Hopper; and living history encampments.
Food and merchandise vendors will also be available.
McClive said the group of people coming to town for the festival is getting wider and wider.
“So our geographical area is improving,” she said.
The coordinator noted the Mid-Maryland Celtic Festival in Mount Airy has “closed its doors.” Its website encourages the public to attend the Garrett County Celtic Festival.
“Mid-Maryland is huge,” McClive said. “We have a new member from their board who is now on our board. She’s a real go-getter, and has all these links down state. So we’re expecting to be able to get a good percentage of their crowd because they’re going to be looking for a festival.”
She expressed her appreciation to Friendsville for hosting the Garrett County Celtic Festival.
“On behalf of the board, Friendsville couldn’t have made this any easier for us,” McClive said. “You guys are wonderful.”
“Thanks for choosing Friendsville,” Council President Pam Humberson told her.
For more information, visit gccelticfestival.com
. Advance tickets are available for purchase on the website for $10. Tickets will be $15 at the gate.