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April 1, 2017: Celtic Highlands Festival
On Saturday, April 1, 2017 the Puyallup School District and Karshner Museum and Center for Culture & Artshosted A Celtic Highlands Festival in celebration of Irish, Scottish, and Welsh cultures. The free family event attracted hundreds of visitors to the Karshner Center from the South Puget Sound area and beyond.

With three separate bagpipe performances and two
pipes Celtic bands, the Karshner Center’s great hall was seldom without live music – and lively music.

Puyallup’s own school board director Pat Donovan (pictured),a musician with the Puget Sound Firefighters Pipe and Drumskicked things off with a solo performance at noon. His performance was the beginning of a most entertaining day.

The Olympia Highlanders Pipe and Drum Corps on Bagpipesfollowed Donovan and provided several pieces with narration in between. The history and evolution of the instrument was explained and musicians demonstrated variations on Irish tunes.

Later in the day the Washington Scottish Pipe Band marched into the Great Hall with great pomp and circumstance. Their large band provided great sound with fancy mallet work done by drummers.
For those who love bagpipes, this was a fantastic day of music.

dancersFor those who love dancing, the Scoil Rince Slieveloughane (pronounced skole rinka shleeve lockane) troupe of dancers (pictured) were entertaining and impressive.

Scoil Rince Slieveloughane  is Irish for Hilllside Lake Dancing School (SRS) which has been teaching traditional Irish dance since 1996. Dancers are trained for competition, performance, or simply recreation.
Dancers wore modern Irish dancing costumes wearing makeup and ringleted wigs. They performed set dances and solos. Several dances featured Irish step dancing which is known for its rapid leg and foot movement while the body and arms are kept stationary.

Performers provided a full program of rigorous dancing while maintaining a gleaming smile.

Among the many musicians and dance groups, the day
athlete also featured Heavy Athletics which been contested at Highland Games for centuries. Beginning with games set up by King Malcolm III of Scotland, Heavy Athletics or Heavy Events were used to select the strongest men in Scotland to serve as the king’s personal bodyguards. 

Today, men and women compete to throw the highest or furthest in nine traditional events, all of which are a true test of not
sheaf only strength but also skill and athleticism. The Tacoma Highlanders, a heavy athletic group, demonstrated the Scottish Heavy Athletics including the weight over high bar, the sheaf toss, and the caber toss on the Stewart Elementary baseball field adjacent to the Karshner Museum. 

As athletes competed, narration was provided to help visitors better understand the objectives of each event. Later, with parent accompaniment, children were allowed to attempt variations on the events. Kids enjoyed giving it a try and quickly learned how difficult the “games” can be.

More Celtic music was presented by two local bands, Celtic Treble and Celt Check. These musicians have all played at a number of HIghland Festivals all over Washington. 

violinCeltic Treble is a dynamic Celtic Music Trio with Annie Henry on fiddle, guitar, and vocals, Denise Keck-O'Falin on guitar, mandolin, and vocals, and Jon Crain on bagpipes and drums. They play traditional Irish and Scottish music in a modern edgy way but also play traditional sing-along songs everyone knows and loves. Celtic Treble provided foot stomping anthem tunes and created a true Celtic experience. 

guitarCelt Check! is a dynamic family quartet with father Gareth Davis, daughters Darcy Davis, Ari Stolar, and Finn McFaire. The quartet played variety of instruments including guitars, recorder, bodhran, doumbek, tin whistle, and more. They love to share these instruments and their extensive list of Celtic songs from Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. 

As always, the craft room was busy during this very
girl popular family festival. Mari Hoiland, a member of the Tacoma Highland Games Association, brought kilts from sizes six month to adult along with accessories such as the sporran (fanny pack) worn traditionally, shawls and shields. Families dressed and posed for photos, then enjoyed their costume while enjoying the entertainment.

The light rain couldn’t damped the enthusiasm at this final Culture & Arts Festival of the 2016-17 season. The Celtic Highland Festival was the perfect ending to a fantastic year celebrating a few of the many cultures which represent our community.