Locals with Scottish and Irish roots will have an opportunity to celebrate their heritage at the third annual Big Stone Gap Celtic Festival, set for Saturday, Aug. 20 at venues around the town.
“It really just started because there is a lot of Scots and Scots-Irish blood around this area,” said Jack Beck, the festival’s creator. “Part of the reason for doing this here was to celebrate the heritage in this area.”
The event offers authentic Scottish and Irish music, food, dance and much more, although Scotland and Ireland aren’t the only two Celtic nations featured.
“We didn’t want to have just another Scottish Highland Games, we wanted to do something a bit different,” Beck said, “and so what makes us different is that we try to represent, in some way, each of the seven Celtic nations.”
Beck was born in Fife, a former county of Scotland, so he understands the importance of maintaining his cultural roots. After moving to the United States in 2004, Beck and his wife settled down in Big Stone Gap and opened a used bookstore.
“People come into the store and as soon as they hear my voice, they talk about family connections that they have back in Scotland and Ireland,” he said.
With the help of local businesses, individuals and fund-raisers, enough money has been raised to make sure that the festival sees another year.
This year, several new venues have been added, including the Baptist Church, which will host Celtic spiritual music, and the Cabin, where a number of workshops will be held.
Also debuting this year will be the Tour de Cracker’s Neck, a 25-mile bicycle race beginning at 9 a.m. in Bullitt Park. Registration opens at 8 a.m.; entry fee is $20.
Returning events include the sheepdog demonstrations, the Welsh Choir, the Celtic Kitchen, the Ceilidh community dance and the British car exhibition.
Performing on the main stage, located in Miners Park, will be the Celtic rock band Coyote Run, set to take the stage at 12:45 and 4 p.m.
“We’d like to see Big Stone being seen as a kind of festival town,” Beck said.
For more information on the festival, visit w w w. b i g s t o n e c e l t i c . c o m .