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Maine Celtic Celebration all about tradition

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Eleventh annual festival lands in Belfast July 14-16

BELFAST - When asked what the Maine Celtic Celebration means to the city of Belfast, festival VP Claudia Luchetti said that the festival provides entertainment, but also something else.

“There is a dual purpose. To provide entertainment, but also education.”

The Maine Celtic Celebration was brought to life 11 years ago by a group of local folks with Celtic heritage who recognized the cultural connection with their home, a city named after the Belfast located in Ireland.

“It is celebrating tradition and heritage,” said Luchetti.

Previously, Belfast was home to a festival that celebrated the chicken processing tradition, but that event died out with the industry, according to Luchetti. The site of the now-shuttered chicken processing plant is now home to the Belfast Commons; the common came into being when the plant was bought, torn down, turned into a park and donated to the city.

And now, the commons serves as the home of the Maine Celtic Celebration.

“It is kind of like an evolution. [A] total turn in culture from the chicken processing and broiler festival, which was more like a carnival and held in the city park. When that all ended and the group [that started the Celtic Celebration] got together, they capitalized on the fact that there had been a festival held after the Fourth of July in Belfast traditionally for quite a long time,” said Luchetti.

The festival’s biggest feature is music. All of the music is traditional instrumentation from the Celtic heritage - fiddles, accordions and string instruments. Music will be played at the Belfast Commons from July 14 at 6 p.m. to Sunday at 5 p.m. Many of the musicians will also offer workshops.

Perhaps the most famous event of the Maine Celtic Celebration is the cheese roll. The event is based off the cheese roll in Gloucestershire, England. Contestants chase cheese down the hill and the first contestant to grab the cheese wheel is the winner. This year’s cheese roll will take place on July 16 at 1:30 p.m.

Other events include a dog parade and show on July 15 at 9:30 a.m. The highland heavy games take place all day on July 16; these are all traditional Scottish games. 

“Big people throwing around heavy objects,” said Luchetti.

Another event is the kilted canter, a 5K run where many of the racers run in kilts. That event is put on by the Belfast Rotary and takes place at Belfast High School. In addition, the festival also includes a kilt competition where anyone wearing a kilt can come up on stage to talk about their kilt’s heritage; the audience then votes via donations for its favorite kilt.

The Maine Celtic Celebration does not have an entrance fee, but donations are welcome.

“We are very committed to the idea that everyone should come regardless of the ability to pay,” said Luchetti. “The event is all supported by donations and carried on by volunteers. It is a demonstration of community. That the community can get together and put on such a celebration.”

More information about the Maine Celtic Celebration – including a full list of events - can be found online at mainecelticcelebration.com. In addition, the group is still looking for volunteers; info about giving your time can also be found at the website.

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