Friday, 8 July 2011

Almonte Celtfest returns this weekend, Promoting Celtic culture in the Valley

EMC Events - Celtfest is coming up this weekend (July 8-10), and offers more fun and excitement for its 15th year.

"This year's event literally is bigger and better," says Jim Mountain, Almonte Celtfest Organizing Committee. "It is a tribute to all the performers, volunteers and supporters who have made Celtfest possible over the past 15 years."

Beginning Friday night and running through Sunday, Almonte's annual celebration features three jam-packed days of Celtic art, music and song, language and culture. The event takes place in "one of the best natural amphitheatres in Canada - Gemmill Park," as well as Almonte's Old Town Hall.

"Come and celebrate with us the great traditional and contemporary music, song and dance of the Ottawa Valley region," says Mountain. "Discover your inner Celt!"

He notes nearly 200 performers will entertain residents and visitors during the festival.

With Celtfest's growing popularity, musicians and bands desire to make the festival's playbill, and apply for the opportunity to travel and perform here.

Although Celtfest runs rain or shine, Mountain hopes Mother Nature cooperates.

"If the weather is perfect, we can expect more than 5,000 visitors," he says.

The Almonte Celtfest Organizing Committee sees the occasion as a regional destination event, which is "fully" backed by the Town of Mississippi Mills and the Building Communities Through Arts and Heritage Program (Department of Canadian Heritage). In addition, more than 60 local businesses lend support.

Once again, this year's Masters of Ceremony are Reg Gamble and Terry-Lynn Mahusky.

Pub night

Almonte Celtfest Pub Night is back Friday, July 8, and from 8 p.m. until close, area pubs and restaurants will feature live entertainment.

In Almonte, Corkery Road, - a four-piece Celtic band that specializes in high-energy, infectious and traditional music - performs at the Barley Mow, and Les mots dits Anglais is at the Naismith Sports Pub. Beginning at 7 p.m., Irish harpist Clare Dwyer entertains at the Heirloom Café.

Carleton Place's Ballygiblins and St. James Gate (Cratur) will also keep patrons thoroughly amused.

Catch Montreal-based group Salty Dog, playing Celtic folk music with a distinctively 'Maritime' flavour, at JR's Downstairs Pub Saturday night (July 9).

Gemmill Park

At the Almonte Old Town Hall Saturday, July 9, Celtfest (partnered with the Ottawa Valley School of Traditional Music and Mississippi Mills Musicworks) offers a number of workshops - Irish fiddle (Matt Pepin), Cape Breton fiddle (Don Fletcher), piano accompaniment (Jim Hunter), bodhran drum (Alistair Dennett), tin whistle and Irish flute (Chuck Quick) and Irish harp (Clare Dwyer).

Each workshop, running from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., costs $20.

Early in the day, visitors to the Almonte Farmers' Market can catch the sounds of The Barley Shakers.

There is no admission charge for Celtfest's main stage performances at Gemmill Park, however, donations will be accepted. Organizers ask that no pets be brought to the event.

Commencing at 2:00 pm and ending at dusk, Saturday's lineup is as follows: The Cape Breton Fiddlers (2:15 p.m.), The Boxty Band (3:15 p.m.), The Barley Shakers (4:10 p.m.), Julie Fitzgerald & Friends (5:05 p.m.), Brandy N Port (6 p.m.), Wade Foster and doubleback (6:55 p.m.), Salty Dog (7:50 p.m.) and The Rogues (8:45 p.m.) who in 2010 won a "battle of the Celtic bands" event over 64 other bands in the USA.

According to Mountain, Celtfest also features outstanding food and refreshments, and excellent artisans.

"There's also a Celts children's area with face painting and games," he adds.

Day three

On Sunday, July 10, Celfest commences with the Fiddle Mass at Holy Name of Mary Catholic Church, beginning at 10:30 a.m.

From noon until 6 p.m., the action starts back up in Gemmill Park. Main Stage entertainment is as follows: Monday Night Fiddlers (12 p.m.), Les mots dits Anglais (12:40 p.m.), Valley Heritage Radio's Dai Bassett (1:15 p.m.), Triple Trouble (1:45 p.m.), Corkery Road (2:25 p.m.), Heather Dale Band (3:20 p.m.), the Celtfest Friends tribute to the 15th Anniversary (4:25 p.m.) and at 5 p.m. The Rogues.

The O'Connell Acoustic Session Tent is a huge draw, says Mountain.

"It's a huge jam session," he adds. "People just come for it. It's like a community coming together, and is a true reflection of this area."


Danny O'Connell Memorial Award, established in 2004, is owned and administered by the Community Foundation of Ottawa, which provides a cash award annual to a traditional fiddler under the age of 25.

"The award will be given out on stage Sunday," says Mountain.

Mississippi Mills Mayor John Levi will be speaking during the festival's opening ceremonies.

"The town is a huge support," says Mountain. "In addition, they helped us secure a Trillium grant."

For more information, please visit

"Celtfest takes thousands of volunteer hours and a year to do it," says Mountain.

Almonte Celtfest returns this weekend, Promoting Celtic culture in the Valley - Events - By Tara Gesner Almonte/Carleton Place Local Community News

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