Haggis, hammer throws and Highland Reign are just a few of the attractions offered this weekend when the Celtic Music Festival and Scottish Highland Games come to the Harrison County Fairgrounds.
The event is presented by the Highlands and Islands Association of Celtic Gatherings. Saturday hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday hours are 9 a.m.-4 p.m. The fairgrounds are located at 15321 County Farm Rd., Gulfport.
Elizabeth Doss, entertainment coordinator for Highlands and Islands, said the event promotes learning about Celtic heritage through food, games, artisans and genealogy.
“It’s a way for people on the Coast and around the area to come learn more about the culture and heritage that they don’t see every day, especially in South Mississippi,” Doss said.
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One rarity along the Coast is traditional Scottish food. Hamish’s Kitchen and Oz Highland Beef are two touring vendors who will offer Scottish eggs, fish and chips, haggish and chips, curry chips, deep-fried Mars Bars and Highland cow hamburgers. There also will be short bread and cookies.
One of the most unique parts of Celtic heritage is their music. This year’s lineup features the long-awaited return of the world-renowned group Highland Reign, who will play two shows each day.
Blarney Coast will kick off the festival Saturday at 9 a.m. Highland Reign will play at 10 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. The Presbyterian Christian School Pipe Band will play at 10:30. At 11:45 there will be a Parade of Tartans & Massed Band. Celtic Crossroads will play at 1:15 p.m. and 2:30. The Southern String Dulcimers play at 1:15 and the Maccossan School of Irish Dance will perform at 2.
The entertainment lineup on Sunday is Highland Reign at 9 a.m. and 2:15 p.m., Kracker Dan at 10 and 12:45, the Gulfport Fire Department Pipes and Drums at 10:30, the Kirtken’ of the Tartans & Veterans’ Parade at 11:45, an Irish Dancers workshop at 12:15, and Blarney Coast at 1:30.
The popular Scottish Highland games take place on Sunday only. The regionally sanctioned event will feature 30 men and women competing throughout the day in four events. One of these is the throwing of the “stone of strength,” smooth granite stones of 28 and 56 pounds — an event similar to the Olympic shotput. The caber toss is an attempt to flip a heavy pole that is almost 20-feet long. In the Scottish hammer throw, competitors twirl with a 16-pound hammer to build velocity and then toss it for the greatest distance possible. The fourth competition is the sheaf toss, in which a 16-pound burlap bag filled with straw is tossed in an effort to clear a high bar.
Other events include jousting shows, which will be held at 11 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. on Sunday. David Rogers and his Border Collies will present sheepherding demonstrations at 9:30 a.m. both days.
The Junior Olympic Archery Team will give an archery demonstration at 1 p.m. both days. Throughout the weekend, blacksmiths and other artisans will offer their wares and education on their crafts and clans will offer genealogical information.
For children, there is story time with the Scottish Princess Merida and Wee Archery at 1:30 p.m. both days, a petting zoo, a magical unicorn and a Highland Cow.
Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for military and seniors 60 or older, $15 for both days and free to children 12 and younger.