Don’t be surprised to hear the haunting refrain of bagpipes as musicians gear up for the upcoming Kachemak Bay CeltFest at Karen Hornaday Park. On June 19-20, kilts, fiddles and Celtic heritage will abound as the Kachemak Bay Celtic Club puts on the two-day CeltFest and Highland Games.
Formed in 2010, the Kachemak Bay Celtic Club is headquartered in Homer and has been sponsoring this festival for the last five years. Originally titled the Kachemak Bay Scottish Club, the organization quickly opened up its doors to anyone with Celtic heritage or interest in Celtic traditions. Areas of Celtic ancestry include Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany.
For Renee Krause, director of the Kachemak Bay Celtic Club, membership with the club is a way to honor her family’s history.
“I have both the Campbell and Stewart clans in my family and it just means a lot to have that community strength and ties that comes from the club,” says Krause.
The Celtic Club’s mission is to learn about and make people aware of Celtic heritage.
“A lot of us here have Scottish and Irish roots, we just don’t know it,” says Krause.
One highlight of the CeltFest is the Scottish Highland Games. During the games, athletes compete in a wide variety of events, with most involving throwing heavy objects. Events include light hammer, heavy hammer, weight for height and the kilted mile race.
According to Robert Archibald, president of the Kachemak Bay Celtic Club, the games are “historically derived from shows of brute strength, like throwing trees across rivers. Before they had swords, Scots were throwing stones at each other, then eventually it became a traditional competition.”
Thirty athletes are already scheduled to participate in the games, with a few coming from out of state. The games start at 10 a.m. June 20.
Athletes interested in participating in the games can register beforehand for $40. All kids’ athletic events are free.
“If I had gotten into this in my twenties, I would’ve been out there like a wild man,” says Archibald.
Although not officially part of the highland games, the CelticFest also will host a championship tug of war contest at 4 p.m. June 19; registration starts at 3 p.m.
Friday’s festivities also include music from several bands including the nationally acclaimed Celtic folk band, Tempest. Homer’s Celtic band, the Celtic Cats, also will perform. All music begins at 7 p.m.
Several Scottish clans will have representatives with tents set up where individuals can see the different families of each clan, what area of Scotland they came from, each clan’s motto, and the particular plaid pattern, or tartan, associated with it.
Whether Celtic blood runs deep in your family or you only wish to be Celtic for a day, the Kachemak Bay CeltFest should provide fun for all ages.
Aryn Young is a freelance writer for the Homer News.
Kachemak Bay CeltFest
All events at Karen Hornaday Park June 19-20
Friday, June 19
4 p.m.: Championship Tug-of-war and round-robin competition. $30 per team; register by June 15.
7 p.m.: Tempest. $25 per person admission, $20 for seniors, with VIP packages starting at $50.
Saturday, June 20
10 a.m.-5 p.m.: Seventh Kachemak Bay Highland Games. Traditional Highland games. All competitors must wear a kilt. $15 adults, $10 seniors, $5 kids 6-15, $30 a family, ages 5 and under free.
For more information, visit www.kache-makbaycelticclub.com or call 907-953-6546.