Maine Celtic Celebration shines on

By Dagney C. Ernest | Jul 12, 2017
Nova Scotia’s Mary Jane Lamond and Wendy MacIsaac headline the 2017 Maine Celtic Celebration.

Belfast — It was touch and go for a while last summer, but the Maine Celtic Celebration successfully marked 10 years and, thanks to a new influx of volunteers and support, is back for another weekend of celebrating the area's Irish and Scottish roots.

In the past decade, the event has grown from a homespun celebration of Maine's Irish and Scottish roots to a full-blown summer festival with music on multiple stages, a small village of vendors and the city’s largest fireworks display. The 11th annual Maine Celtic Celebration begins Friday night and runs through Sunday afternoon, July 14 through the 16th.

The Celebration takes place on the waterfront in two adjacent parks, the Belfast Common and Steamboat Landing. The fest features performances and activities for everyone — music, dancing, athletic competitions and games, as well as food and craft vendors. New this year is a medieval artisan village, set up and populated by members of the Society for Creative Anachronism’s Waldo County (and beyond) contingent, the Barony of Endewearde.

Music is a highlight of the Maine Celtic Celebration and it takes place almost continuously, thanks to two performance stages plus workshops in the Belfast Boathouse. First to take the Main Stage on the Common are local faves The Napper Tandies, performing pub-style tunes beginning 6 p.m. Friday. They will be followed at 7 p.m. by the supergroup trio of Colin Farrell (Lunasa), Johnny B. Connolly (Chieftains, Altan) and Cary Novotny (Hanz Araki Band). This collaboration also will perform Saturday at 6:05 p.m.

Saturday’s performances begin at 11:15 a.m. and run until the fireworks, set for 9:20 p.m. Just prior to the pyrotechnics are first-time headliners Mary Jane Lamond and Wendy MacIsaac, two-decade purveyors of the Scottish Gaelic musical traditions of Nova Scotia. Their most recent recording, 2013’s “Seinn,” won Canadian Folk Music and Music Nova Scotia awards for traditional/roots recording of the year, as well as East Coast Music Association’s group recording of the year. The duo also performs Sunday afternoon.

Another first-time Celebration performer is Lindsey Straw, a Berklee College of Music grad devoted to English, Scottish, Irish and American songcraft. Harpist Danielle Paus, who blends traditional, sacred and original music, is classically trained — and some of that training was at the former Salzedo Harp Colony in Camden.

There are a number of returning favorites including The Press Gang from Portland and trad trio Fódhla (Boston and Portland). Maine fiddler Eric Brown will be here in Darlin’ Corey, a duo featuring her and Matt Shipman; Brown also is part of the high noon Maine Fiddlers’ Showcase Saturday. Sibling duo Dan and Liz Faiella promise to take listeners on a journey through the folk traditions of their Irish heritage and New Hampshire roots. Flutist Hanz Araki is back, performing and teaching workshops. And longtime Maine Celtic Festival lynchpin Chris Brinn will take the stage with friends in both Napper Tandies and Eireplay.

Workshop topics include bodhran, bouzouki, mandolin and Cape Breton dance. And open sessions open and close each day, with a Mighty Session taking place during the fireworks show.

In addition to music and dance — and food, craft and more vendors — there are perennial favorite events including a Celtic Breeds Dog Show and canine parade Saturday; and, on Sunday, the Kilted Canter 5K Road Race/Walk, the Kirkin' o' the Tartans, the amazing Highland Heavy Games and, yes, the 11th annual New World Cheese Roll Championships.

For the complete schedule of events and more information, see the program in the July 6 issue of the Republican Journal, Camden Herald and Courier-Gazette; or visit mainecelticcelebration.com. The Maine Celtic Celebration is an all-volunteer effort that takes all year and some $40,000 to pull off; a $10 donation is appreciated at the gate.

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Staff Profile

Dagney C. Ernest
A&E editor for Courier Publications, LLC
(207) 594-4401/4407, ext. 115
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Dagney has been providing Courier coverage of the local arts scene since 1985 and has helmed the multi-paper A&E section since it debuted in 2003. She has been a local performing artist, community and professional, for more than 30 years and spent a decade writing, producing and announcing on-air for several Midcoast radio stations. When not in the NewsNest, Dagney likes to be in motion.

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