Badin Celtic Festival will include Scottish Highland Games
Posted at 10:06 am Wed May 3, 2023
The last Badin Celtic Festival of 2018 promised much more.
And there’s more to come this month for Stanley County visitors and hometown folks looking for weekend fun and games.
In fact, Better Badin, Inc. is doing something new in the city by reviving a very old tradition dating back to 11th century Scotland.
On May 13, the Badin Celtic Festival will feature traditional Scottish mountain games. These athletic competitions were spread by Scottish and Irish immigrants from one end of the globe to the other. North Carolina now boasts one of the largest Highland Games gatherings in the world. The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games draw crowds of 30,000 for the annual event in July.
Major festivals have attracted amateur and professional athletes and large crowds for many years.
According to Tim Irwin, Badin’s entry into the Highland Games circuit is due in part to the cancellation of the 2023 Bethabara Highland Games in Winston-Salem, one of the smaller regional gatherings. Irwin, Frances Whalen, Chris Comeau and Tom Arsenault make up the Better Badin festival committee.
Dan Michels volunteered to help with this inaugural effort. His Highland Games experience began with Bethabara competitions in 2002 and took him all the way to Iceland at the Highland Games World Games. He now serves as a Southeastern Highland Athletic Group (SHAG) certified referee and officiates smaller games.
“I want to see the games flourish,” Michels said. “I will check the field and logistics in Badin and hold an open class competition with a list of 11 amateur athletes.”
Michels has invited ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘master’ athletes to showcase their grueling athletic prowess at Badin’s new Waterfront Park venue.
The games consist of nine traditional Scottish events – from the stone and hammer throw to the iconic caber toss – and will take place throughout the day. Michels expects to begin with throwing contests beginning around 9 a.m. Competitions not only test strength, but also balance, speed and agility.
According to Michels, the games will be reported to the North American Scottish Athletics Association (NASGA), which keeps track of all games and the throwers’ standings. The NASGA rankings are used to determine which pitchers are eligible for championship games. One or two of the athletes coming to Badin are working to become professionals.
The official start time for the festival is 10am, starting with a parade up Falls Road led by the Scottish American Military Society Color Guard.
During the day, the sounds of Celtic fusion musicians Trip Rogers and Raglan Road will entertain festival-goers, along with a variety of pipes and drums.
Children can take part in their own Highland Games on the Village Green after parents check in at the Better Badin tent.
And anyone curious about traditional Scottish tartan kilts, sporrans, belts, buckles, hose and more is encouraged to ask questions. Representatives from the Scottish Tartans Authority and other heritage groups will be on hand to share cultural and family history with visitors.
A military appreciation ceremony in the afternoon will honor all veterans in attendance. Volunteers may be needed to carry various military flags.
An eclectic mix of food and beverage vendors, including Badin’s neighborhood eateries, will give visitors plenty of choices.
Two scotch tasting venues are the only ticketed events. Tickets can be purchased in advance via Eventbrite or at the festival in the Better Badin marquee.
Two Celtic festival raffle drawings include a four-piece patio seating group and a hearth table. These tickets can also be purchased at the Better Badin tent.
Irwin and the committee spent months planning and preparing for the return of the Badin Celtic Festival.
“The many volunteers have my gratitude,” Irwin said. “We’re hoping for good weather and a big turnout.”
Badin Celtic Festival Tentative Schedule
Falls Road and Village Green
10am – SAMS Color Guard Parade on Falls Road
National anthem and prayer
11 a.m. – Kids Games (Register at Better Badin Tent)
Noon – Trip Rogers Celtic Music
13:00 – Scotch Tasting First Place (ticket required)
14.00 – Military Appreciation Ceremony
14:30 – Second Scotch Tasting Venue (ticket required)
15:30 – Trip Rogers and Raglan, Celtic Fusion
5:30 p.m. – Lowering of the colors
Highland Games, Waterfront Park
9:00 am – 5:30 pm
In the following order:
Braemar and open stoning
Big weight and light weight for distance
Hammer throw, heavy and light weight
Throwing a bundle
Weight above height bar