Berks Celtic Festival set for July 15

The Celtic Martins
The Celtic Martins
The Hawk Mountain Highlanders performed in the Kutztown University 150th Parade on Sept. 10, 2016. They will be performing at the Berks Celtic Festival.
The Hawk Mountain Highlanders performed in the Kutztown University 150th Parade on Sept. 10, 2016. They will be performing at the Berks Celtic Festival. Digital First Media file photo

We’ve Changed Our Name: We’re more than just oysters.

We are now the Berks Celtic Festival. We have dropped “Oyster” from our name. The good news is that our name is the only thing we have changed. The festival held on the third Saturday in July at Willow Glen Park in Sinking Spring (July 15th this year) will still have all the Celtic culture it is known for. There will be music, dancing, beer and whiskey, other drinks, food, and vendor items; and yes, we still have oysters.

“Hi, would you like to buy a ticket to the Berks Celtic Oyster Fest?” “No thank you,” a friend replies nicely, “I don’t like oysters.” All of our members have had this exchange at one time or another, and many have complained of having had it over and over again.

This is easy to correct when greeting people face to face, but most of our members have reflected on how often our name, seen in print or heard on a radio promotion, has gone unanswered when the reader or listener thinks “No thanks, I don’t like oysters.” So the Berks Celtic Festival committee took the bold step of changing the popular, annual, summer festival’s name. Just remember, it is the same, great, summer Celtic Fest it has always been.

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The fest will have a theme this year for the first time, Thirty-Two United. “Thirty-two,” of course, refers to the thirty-two counties that make up the Emerald Isle. “United” refers to the reality that six counties make up Northern Ireland while the other twenty-six counties are the Republic of Ireland. Despite some people’s desire to still see the entire island united, our theme is one of acceptance and peace, a desire to be united by common bonds and not let borders, politics, or religion stand in the way, uniting all Celts from all walks of life, including the tens of millions of Celtic-Americans whose ancestors hail from one of those thirty-two.

The fest will open as it always has to the soul-stirring sound of Celtic pipes and drums. The Hawk Mountain Highlanders led by Pipe Major Wes Loder will begin an outstanding slate of entertainment. The first band of the day will be a newcomer to the Berks Celtic Fest, The Celtic Rebels. Capably led by Jimmy Farrell, the band loves music from Ireland’s rebel period and much more. They, in fact, do a wonderful version of the song “Thirty-Two United.” The amazing Celtic Martins follow. They have become a huge fan favorite and continue to add to their already extensive skills which include multiple instruments and dancing. The final band of the night is another fan favorite, The Paul Moore Band. Interspersed with the bands’ sets will be two more performances from the Hawk Mountain Highlanders, and three performances of the Paloma School of Dance making up a jam-packed day of entertainment.

The festival also features a lengthy menu of drinks including the basics, Guinness Stout, Harp, and Smithwicks. There will be many other Irish and Celtic beers along with several microbrews and lite beer for those trying to keep their figure looking good for the Best-Looking Celt in a Kilt Contest. Irish whiskey and wine will also be available. Water and soft drinks are available at the food stands.

The food menu is even more extensive than the drinks. Konopelski Katering and Go Fish have many Celtic favorites, especially oysters, and the usual festival fare found during a summer in Berks County. There is something for everyone.

Again, the festival will have a wonderful vendors’ row with artisan’s selling Celtic related goods and crafts, including clothing, jewelry, accessories, and much more.

Detailed lists for entertainment, drinks, food, vendors, and sponsors can be found at berkscelticfestival.com. Tickets can be purchased at our website in advance to save some time and money.

The Berks Celtic Festival is held annually by the Berks Irish American Fraternal Association. The goal of the fest is to celebrate our Celtic heritage and someday raise enough money for the organization to purchase a clubhouse, perhaps fulfilling a dream of one day holding our festival on our own grounds and at our own clubhouse.

Anyone who would like more information on the Berks Celtic Festival can contact Phil Kearney at 610-779-7648 (cell) or email to loosehead819@gmail.com