Celebration of Celtic Culture Keeps Growing Print
News/Features - Local News
Tuesday, 23 August 2005 18:00
Listening to Lisa Lockheart describe what’s new at this year’s Celtic Highland Games of the Quad Cities is a little overwhelming. Keep in mind: We’re just talking about additions to the event (now in its seventh year), not the things that are staying the same.

But what is overwhelming in the telling is wonderful for potential attendees. The daylong Celtic Highland Games, to be held Saturday at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds, is a smorgasbord of all things Celtic – from athletic, dance, and pipe-band competitions to a party featuring live bands to animal demonstrations to workshops to family activities to a parade to genealogy to storytelling to food and merchandise. The schedule (available at (http://www.celtichighlandgames.org) runs three pages.

So what’s new? Lockheart, who coordinates promotion for the event, offered quite a list. There’s a Celtic bird-of-prey demonstration (10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.), a Celtic harp workshop (9 a.m.), and a Celtic finger-style guitar workshop (10 a.m.).

Two new bands – Searson and Mother Grove – will be entertaining in the Glasgow Arts Tent (at 3 and 4 p.m., respectively) and at the evening Ceilidh, which starts at 6 p.m. Mother Grove is a “kilt rock” band from Indianapolis that has opened for Seven Nations, while Searson is an up-and-coming Canadian band featuring five members of the same family.

The Maolisa Irish Step Dancers will be joining the Mullane Irish Dance Academy for the first time in the Dublin Dance Tent.

There will be more horses.

And there’s the possibility that some world records might fall in the athletic competition, which runs from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Lockheart advises to pay special attention to the sheaf-toss and weight-over-bar events.) While 33 people competed in last year’s contests, 35 were signed up as of last week, Lockheart said, and walk-up registrants will surely add to the total.

The women’s competition will also feature four of the top 25 women throwers, Lockheart said. (For the uninitiated, the highlight of the Celtic Highland Games athletic competition is the caber toss, in which participants throw a giant tree trunk.)

The goal, Lockheart said, is to keep the event fresh by adding events and making things different.

The Celtic Highland Games of the Quad Cities have grown since their local introduction in 1999. That first year saw attendance of roughly 2,500 people, while last year’s event drew about 4,500, Lockheart said. Attendance has grown by 10 to 20 percent each year, she added.

The Celtic Highland Games’ success isn’t a surprise. The event started here in part because there weren’t many Celtic festivals and competitions convenient for Iowa residents to attend.

In the long run, Lockheart said, organizers would love to make the event a multi-day festival, but they’re constrained by resources – financial as well as volunteer. A long-term goal, Lockheart said, is reaching attendance of 10,000.

The Celtic Highland Games run from 8 a.m. to midnight at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds in Davenport. Admission is $10. For more information, including a full schedule, visit (http://www.celtichighlandgames.org).
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