The Northeastern South Dakota Celtic Faire and Games are a celebration of Celtic heritage and also an event that can be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of their ethnicity.
Jade Groom and Chrissy Ramirez of Britton have vastly different backgrounds, but came to the event together. Groom, who is three-quarters Scottish, said her grandmother used to take her to events that celebrated their heritage. Ramirez said she'd never been to any Celtic event, and if she had any Celtic background, she wasn't aware of it.
They doubted it would make much difference in whether they would enjoy the event.
"We just decided to see what was going on," Ramirez said. "I want to see the crafts. I've heard they're always selling cool stuff here."
Groom and Ramirez were two people in the large crowd of people gathered at the Brown County Fairgrounds for the sixth annual Celtic Faire on Saturday afternoon.
Jean Taylor, one of the organizers for the event, said she estimated about 1,000 people attended on Saturday.
Celtic eats and treats
Since the faire offered a variety of foods ranging from funnel cakes to haggis, a person who prefers to stick with classic fair food will be satisfied. But for people interested in sampling some real Celtic recipes, they may want to check out what the Y Cegin Cymraeg (Welsh for "the Welsh Kitchen) has to offer.
Chris Harding runs the Cymraeg. He emigrated from Risca, Wales, to Brookings in April to marry his wife, Steph, in May. Harding said he learned about the faire from his mother-in-law and decided to get involved.
He was a little nervous beforehand because Saturday was his first time as a food vendor. He got more comfortable after he got some positive feedback.
"I think people have taken to this really well," he said.
His menu includes beef cawl, which is a beef and vegetables with plenty of leeks because leeks are an emblem of Wales, Harding said. The menu also had some classic Welsh desserts including the Bard Birth, a raisin bread made with tea, and Aberffraw biscuits, which he said are similar to a cookie except the dough is packed in a scallop shell to give it a curved shape.
For the past few years, the Highland Games have been a highlight of the Celtic Faire.
The games provide a chance for men to showcase their strength through traditional Celtic athletic events. The events include the caber toss, sheaf toss, putting of the stone, traditional tug of war, hammer throw, weight for distance and weight over the bar.
They all require strength and a unique skill set. For example, the caber toss requires people to hoist a 12-foot wooden pole, put it on their shoulder, then run forward and flip the pole end-over-end with the goal to have the pole land as straight as possible.
Betty Campbell and her husband, Galen, who were enjoying food and beverages at O'Bleary's Pub, said the games were one of the main reasons, along with the shepherd herding and the Rince Na Chroi Irish Dancers, they came to the faire.
People who walked by the awning of the faire's entryway or looked above the main stage saw eight flags hanging together. The American flag was easily recognizable, but the other seven were unfamiliar.
Six of them were flags of the Celtic nations: Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Brittany and the Isle of Man, said Beck Leidholdt, president of the Northeastern South Dakota Celtic Faire and Games.
The final flag was a combination of all six flags stitched together, which represents Celtic unity, Leidholdt said.
The flags are not only excellent decorations, but provide a visual display of Celtic culture in America, Leidholdt said.
Show goes on
The faire will be going today at the Brown County Fairgrounds from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Events include Celtic karaoke, a medieval sword fighting technique display with performances by Brian Boru Irish Pipe Band, the Long Nines and other areas bands.
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