Gathering of the Clans, Where You Are Welcome
August 23 & 24 in Mayville, NY
By Nicholas Pircio
You don’t have to be of Scottish descent to join in the fun and spectacle coming soon to Mayville Lakeside Park. Of course if you are, by all means come to the 14th annual Jamestown Regional Celtic Festival and Gathering of the Clans presented by the 96th Highlanders. It all starts the night of Friday August 23rd, and continues for a full day into Saturday August 24th. The Friday night kickoff starts at 6:30pm and continues until 9:30. The Town Pants will provide musical entertainment. Activities resume at 9am Saturday and run through 8:30pm, capped off by a nighttime celebration.
Last year’s Celtic Festival featured eight pipe bands, the most at any festival in western New York. Musical entertainers will travel to Mayville to add to the atmosphere, featuring Celtic bands, bagpipe bands, Scottish and Irish dancers, and a fiddle group giving fiddle demonstrations.
And don’t forget the games! The Scottish Heavy Athletes will be back at it, where competitors take part in the sport that tests the mind and muscles. Examples include the sixteen-pound Open Stone Throw, the Weight Throw for distance, and the Scottish Hammer Throw, based on the village blacksmith’s hammer. The signature event is the Caber Toss, which involves lifting and heaving tapered pine trunks. This particular game may have begun as a military exercise. The object of the log toss is to have the log land in the 12 o’clock position.
Another activity is the pitchfork, or Sheaf Toss. A pitchfork is used to toss a sixteen pound bag of hay over a cross bar, which is raised six inches at a time. The winning toss is the highest one over the bar without knocking it down. There is also a weight toss for height, where a 56-pound weight is swung between the knees and tossed over a bar using only one hand.
You will find plenty of food vendors, so you certainly won’t go hungry. And be sure to check out the many Celtic vendors and their displays.
Last year’s event proved to be well attended, according to festival coordinator Doug Clark, who said between 4,000 and 5,000 people were there. “And we’re looking for a bigger year this year.” As for the Scottish clans, Clark expects about twenty clans to be there. They’ll offer genealogy and information about their clan. “They’re the historical side of the festival.”
Don’t forget the Scottish Auction, where area businesses and festival vendors contribute their wares. All money raised from the auction goes to the scholarship fund, which has donated some sixteen scholarships, according to Clark.
Donated items will be accepted right up until the day of the festival. “We’ll take anything from money donations to items to be auctioned off in the silent auction. It’s similar to a Chinese auction, only of course here the auction is Scottish.” About sixty baskets will feature various items. “These range from car products right on through beauty and health, along with an overnight stay at Webb’s Lake Resort.”
Clark notes camping is available, not on site, but within five miles of Mayville Lakeside Park. Campgrounds can be found toward Sherman, and near Snug Harbor.
The cost of admission to the festival is a $10 donation, seniors are $8, with children 13 and under free. For Friday night, there is a $5 donation, with all kids admitted free. You can check out further information online at www.96thhighlanders.com.