Nestled along the lakeside grounds of Krull Park in historic Olcott Beach, New York, the Niagara Celtic Festival and Highland Games promises fun and festivities for Celts of all backgrounds. Vicki Banks gives us the goodies on this weekend’s event!
My name is Vicki Banks and I’m the Guest Relations Coordinator for Niagara Celtic. My friendly staff of volunteers and I work to anticipate guest needs during their stay, ensuring the best possible visit. We have on-site information centers and help with lost & found, first aid and other guest requests/ arrangements.
Our society (Niagara Celtic Heritage Society) and festival’s goal is to help restore, preserve and promote Celtic culture and keep our beautiful heritage and history alive for future generations. Another important piece of our festival is helping to support Olcott Beach, NY. This area has an amazing history which we’re just as interested in preserving, a major factor for our decision to establish the festival in Krull Park.
We have been fortunate to see attendance grow every year since we began in 2001. We expect a crowd of over 12,000 for our 2012 festival. Upon reviewing records in 2011, we had more participants working our 11th year than total guests at our first festival!
We see guests of all ages, traveling from all over the United States and Canada, and we’ve even met people from Europe, Australia and more! Local accommodations are booked well in advance, and we’re so grateful for everyone who marks Niagara Celtic on their calendars every September.
Ontario band Glengarry Bhoys is headlining our Saturday night Ceilidh concert, their second year joining us. We have new performers on all three concert stages, and more bagpipe bands. The Celtic College began last year, allowing guests first-hand experience on various Celtic subjects. This year we’ll see even more classes and demonstrations. And of course there are always new foods to try, more places to shop in the Marketplace and last minute surprises!
Western New York is currently experiencing a burgeoning awareness and celebration of Celtic culture and history, which is wonderful since most of us are descendants from these nations. The more we connect with this important part of our identities, the greater our pride becomes for the legacy we’ve been given. If we’re lucky we’ll become as large a community as those we see in both Ontario and the south-eastern states. Niagara Celtic has always been about celebrating and sharing Celtic culture, so we work hard to show our wonderful heritage in a way that entertains and educates our guests at the same time. Plus, we say everyone who visits our festival is a Celt for the weekend!
We work hard every year to improve the festival grounds, allowing for increased crowds while providing the same great experience as always. We hope to continue this expansion, and are looking forward to a big celebration at our 15th festival, only 3 short years away.
One thing many people don’t realize is that Celtic history is more than what happened in Ireland, Scotland and the other nations in Europe. Celts who immigrated to North America helped mold the United States and Canada, creating an identity unique to us. Corned beef and cabbage dinners began with Irish-Americans, just one example of our influence to modern-day Celtic culture. This heritage is important to preserve, and so I believe there will always be opportunities to understand it better and share it with the world.