Marianne and Charles Politte, owners of the Claddagh Irish Dance Studio and principal organizers of the Parkland Celtic Festival, provided members of the Park Hills-Leadington Chamber of Commerce with details of this year’s second annual festival during the monthly chamber luncheon on Tuesday.
“The Parkland Celtic Festival might be a new event, but it is rooted in ancient tradition,” said Marianne. “That’s what makes it unique. We’re not in competition with other local events because we’re not like other local events. The purpose of the Parkland Celtic Festival is to celebrate the Irish and Scottish culture through music, dance, craft and food.”
The festival will run Sept. 16-18 in downtown Park Hills beginning at 5 p.m. that Friday.
“Celtic festivals are unique events,” said Marianne. “They have a specific purpose and direction; they’re based on celebrations that have been held in the United States and Europe for hundreds of years. They include live music, arts and crafts, dance and traditional food. This is a celebration of the Irish and Scottish heritage of our area.
“We named this the Parkland Celtic Festival because it’s a celebration for everyone in the Parkland. It’s not limited to Park Hills although we did choose to hold the festival in downtown Park Hills to bring attention to the downtown area. And the proceeds will go to the Downtown Park Hills Association for the betterment of the downtown area.”
“We’ve always been interested in cultural festivals,” said Charles. “We’ve traveled around the world and been to many, so it’s always been something we’ve enjoyed and this was an idea we had, which was started last year.”
Last year’s very first Celtic festival proved popular for both vendors and attendees, with 43 of the available 44 vendor spaces filled up and a constant stream of interested visitors throughout the weekend.
“We had an estimated crowd of around 1,500 to 2,000 people last year and we’re hoping that it really grows this year,” said Charles.
“We’ve packed a lot of returning performers from last year as well as some new acts into this year’s three day festival,” said Marianne.
The first performance will begin at 6 p.m. on Sept. 16 and will feature Julia and Justin Dill along with the Claddagh Irish Dancers. The Sheriff and His Deputies bluegrass band will also play that night.
Saturday’s performers will include Living Waters, the Ozark Spirit Cloggers, Roisin Dubh, the Flower O’ Scotland Dance Troupe, The Kilties Drum and Bugle Corps, the Claddagh Irish Dancers and Rowan’s Crossing.
Sunday will see a return of Julia and Justin Dill and the Claddagh Irish Dancers, and will also feature Casey Reeves and The Irish Rovers, ending the festival with traditional Celtic music from Duddy Breeks.
All musical performances will occur on or near the main stage at the corner of West Main and Coffman streets.
“Along with the live entertainment we have planned,” said Charles, “we also have many other attractions for the kids and the adults. There’ll be a carnival with carnival rides and games all three days. Saturday we’ll have a classic car cruise-in with the Leadbelt Cruisers.
“Of course, we’ll have our unique vendors and they’ll be returning with some new vendors. The very popular blacksmith will be there with his forge again making his ironworks … We also have a new one: Black Rock Relics, a ceramics artist, will be creating and selling his wares.
“Guinness beer has also signed on, so we’re going to have a beer tent this year and they’ll be offering authentic Irish beer right on Main Street.”
Among the various vendors of authentic Celtic foods, said Marianne, “we are so excited to hear that the Park Hills-Leadington chamber will be offering authentic Guinness beer-battered Irish sausages and fish and chips. We think this is going to be a huge draw and really enhance the festival experience all three days.”
The Polittes asked chamber members to help spread the word about the festival and to consider becoming corporate sponsors or vendors during the event.
“We’re still in need of both sponsors and vendors,” said Charles.
“We thank the chamber and your festival committee for your involvement in helping this year’s festival be even more successful than last year,” said Marianne. “And we’d like to invite and welcome folks from cities and towns throughout southeast Missouri and beyond to come and experience a real cultural festival. And, as we say, we want everyone to come celebrate your heritage or just be a Celt for a day.”
For questions, to reserve vendor booth space or to become a festival sponsor, call the Claddagh Irish Dance Studio at 573-330-4543 or visit parklandcelticfestival.com.
Amy Patterson is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3616 or firstname.lastname@example.org.