“It’s just going be a fun packed day filled with Irish music, great food, competitions, games, and much more,” festival coordinator Doug Clark explained to the Gazette last week in the run-up to this year’s popular event beside the lake in Mayville.

The 13th Annual Jamestown Regional Celtic Festival and “Gathering of the Clans” will kick-off at the Mayville Lakeside Park on the evening of Friday, August 24, 2018. The night will begin at 6:00 p.m. with a performance by The Town Pants until 10 p.m., with great food vendors on hand, too, including a Beer & Wine Garden. The festival has also arranged free parking and a free shuttle bus on Saturday.

Clark refers to a Celtic culture that encompasses multiple groups. “We don’t just have Scots, we don’t just have Irish,” he said. “We have some Welsh and other nationalities from around the county and around the world.”

The seven Celtic nations include Eire (Ireland), Kernow (Cornwall in southwestern England), Mannin (Isle of Mann), Breizh (Brittany in northern France), Alba (Scotland), Cymru (Wales), and Galicia (in northwestern Spain).

Thirty Celtic craft and handcrafted specialty vendors, including kiltmakers, will offer a wide variety of unique shopping opportunities for fairgoers.

Music! Dancing! 

Eight bagpipe bands and six Celtic bands will play on the Lakeside Park grounds throughout the day among 25 Celtic clans gathered once again from across the nation. Celtic and Irish dancers will perform traditional dances in authentic costumes.

The dance stylings of the Scottish Highland Dancers of Niagara Falls, Ontario and a performance from the Celtic Odyssey of the Audrey Watkins Highland Dance Academy of Niagara Falls, Ontario will entertain. The Academy’s staff has over 30 years of experience and has produced champion dancers who have performed around the world.

Two high-energy Celtic rock bands will perform a concert each night. On Friday evening, The Town Pants from Vancouver, British Columbia and at 6:00 p.m. Saturday evening, the Buffalo-based Celtic rock band McCarthyizm will take the stage.

The largest gathering of pipe bands in Western New York and Western Pennsylvania will bring the sound of the Great Highland bagpipes throughout the day.

The largest gathering of pipe bands in Western New York and Western Pennsylvania will bring the sound of the Great Highland bagpipes throughout the day.

Pipe Bands

  • 96th Highlanders of Jamestown
  • 87th Cleveland Pipe Band of Cleveland
  • Caledonia Pipe Band of Buffalo
  • City of Thorold Pipe Band of Ontario
  • Gordon Highlanders Pipe & Drums of Buffalo
  • Great Lakes Pipe Band of Cleveland
  • Mackenzie Highlanders of Niagara Falls, New York
  • Niagara Regional Police Pipe Band of Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Celtic Bands

  • Ballinloch Celtic Band of Cleveland
  • Limerick of Youngsville, New York
  • Penny Whiskey of Buffalo
  • Celtic Creek, consisting of Jim and Beth McQuiston, of North East; and
  • Sue Tillotson and Jim Cunningham of Lakewood.

Highland Games

Traditional highland games will feature 50 Scottish heavy athletes–a number dwarfing previous years’ number of competitors–includes both men and women, ranging from novice class to master class. Nick Kahanic of Falconer, an iconic champion in Highland games, will join the athletes, and offer demonstrations as a pro.

Six competitions will challenge the athletes and provide entertainment for all:

  • The Open Stone Throw involves the shot putting of smooth river stones that weight 16 pounds.
  • The Weight Toss for Distance, in which weights attached to a ring and chain are tossed. Competitors aim for the furthest distance. Both 28-pound and 56-pound weights are used.
  • In the Weight Toss for Height, competitors swing a 56-pound weight between their knees and then toss it one-handed over a bar.
  • The Weight Toss for Distance, in which weights attached to a ring and chain are tossed. Competitors aim for the furthest distance. Both 28-pound and 56-pound weights are used.
  • The Caber Toss, also known as “the log,” is the most famous event. Historically, the event was used as a military exercise. A caber is a tapered pine tree trunk according to Clark, is 6 to 8 inches in diameter, 20 feet long, and weighs about 120 pounds. The goal is to toss the caber so that it lands end-over-end, coming to a rest in the 12 o’clock position.
  • The Sheaf Toss, also known as the “pitchfork event,” involves the use of a pitchfork to toss a 16-pound bag of hay over a cross bar. In each round, the bar is raised 6 inches. To win, the competitors must vie for the highest toss over the bar without knocking it out of place.

All competitors have three opportunities in each event to record their best score. Winners will be declared in each event and one will be declared the overall winner.

Scottish Auction

A Scottish Auction, similar to a Chinese Auction, will feature donations from vendors and festival-goers alike. The proceeds will benefit the 96th Highlanders Scholarship Fund, managed through the Chautauqua Regional Community Foundation.

As part of raising money for the scholarship fund, items donated by local businesses, vendors, and individuals will be among the auction items. In 2017, $1,000 was raised. Over the course of the history of the festival, 14 scholarships have been awarded.

Businesses and individuals who would like to donate an item or cash to the auction can complete a form on the 96th Highlanders website or call Doug Clark at 814-323-7360.

Something New

“This year we have something new for the kids, too,” Clark said. “They will have their own area to compete in their own highland games.” The events will include a corn hole toss and a kids’ version of a caber toss, using a tube made from cardboard. An exciting puppeteer from Rochester will bring his puppeteer wagon to entertain the youngsters.

Kids will have an opportunity to learn more about the different Clans through a Scottish Clan Map, in which they seek out the clans and get a stamp. Upon completion, kids will be awarded with a special prize.

Learn More

Doug Clark, along with William MacLaughlin, a former Chief of Police for the City of Jamestown, founded the festival in 2005. Since then, the event has grown each year. The founders felt that Chautauqua County deserved a Celtic festival of its own.

To learn more about this traditional and popular event, Google: mayville celtic festival 2018 or visit www.96thhighlanders.com. Join a few thousand of your closest friends gathered among the clans.