Unpack your kilt and your bagpipes, because the Mid-Maryland Celtic Festival is returning for another year of hammer-throwing, riverdancing and whisky drinking. (Heather Norris / BSMG)

After two weeks of rain, the Mid-Maryland Celtic Festival offered hundreds of attendees the chance Saturday to enjoy some time outdoors in the Scottish highlands of Mount Airy — or so it might have felt, anyway.

The festival, now in its 16th year, was held at the Mount Airy Fire Company Carnival Grounds and hosted by the St. Andrew's Society of Mid-Maryland or SASMM. The event included Scottish foods, drinks and clothing, but the biggest draws, Marianne Elliott, SASMM president, are always the dancing, the music and the traditional Scottish games, such as the caber toss.


The festival began in Frederick but moved to Mount Airy five years ago. Since then, Elliott said, it's proven to be a hit, and the town has been supportive of it, she said.

"This is one of our biggest events," Elliott said.

For many dancers with Columbia-based Teelin Irish Dance, which performed Saturday afternoon, the festival is a highlight in their schedule of performances around the region all year long.

"I like the energy," said Emma Runge, 17, a Teelin dancer, adding that the Mount Airy crowd tends to be really engaged with the show.

"Everyone here is here for Celtic activities," said Madison Laudman, 17, another dancer.

Chris Brown, an Ellicott City resident who came to the festival with his daughter, who is also a Teelin dancer, stepped away while the dancers were warming up to take in a bagpipe performance. It was his first time at the Mount Airy festival, but he said he was already impressed.

"It's awesome," he said. "The stage is nice and the beer is good."

Lawrence and Julie Brooks, who manned a booth Saturday selling Celtic and medieval items such as knives and capes, said they hoped to catch a little bit of the music during the day. But they would enjoy their time in Mount Airy regardless, they said.

The Richmond, Virginia, pair travels as far as New Hampshire and Florida to sell their goods at Celtic festivals.

The Mid-Maryland Celtic Festival, they said, is always a good weekend for business.

"People in Maryland are very pleasant to be around," Lawrence Brooks said, adding that he likes the views from around the carnival grounds. "This is a very pleasant place to work."

Dave Levy, of Baltimore, and Aidan Gavin, of Columbia, each made the trip west with their families, including their young children.

For Levy, a recommendation from the Gavin family brought his family out to enjoy the event.

"We like to try to come to as many festivals as we can," he said, adding that the kids like the music and the parents get to enjoy the food.


Gavin, a native of Dublin, Ireland, said the festival was a good size for families, with enough space for kids to move around.

After coming for the first time last year, Gavin and wife, Deirdre, said they knew they wanted to come back for this year's event.

"For me, it's the music." Deirdre Gavin said.

"For me, it's the alcohol," Aidan Gavin said.

"And watching her dance," he said, pointing to his daughter, Áine, a toddler.

Many people in the Mid-Atlantic area claim Scottish heritage, said Elliott, the SASMM president, and the festival is a good way for them to keep in touch with their roots.

It's about "spreading the wealth of Scottish knowledge and culture," she said. "It's really finding out about your roots and celebrating your heritage."