Niagara Gazette — Prepare to leave life in the 21st century behind once you pass through the gates of Krull Park. This weekend, visitors from far and wide will find themselves immersed in the land of giants and wee little folk, among the greatest storytellers of yore. Alongside the lake that will bring Bonnie Prince Charles aboard the Black Pearl, the 13th Niagara Celtic Heritage Festival is a dramatic and enlightening way to spend time in the Land of the Celts.
Fourteen years ago, Philip and Beth Talladay Banks of Newfane were on a trip to Kincardine in Ontario, Canada, where they rediscovered their love for their Celtic heritage. They loved the bagpipes and kilts and the rich history. Shortly after their return, they were sitting in Connie’s Bar and Grill in Olcott, where men in kilts were enjoying a repast. Highland Athlete Paul Krest and companions had been participating in a Highland Games competition, and it sparked a conversation. The group embarked on a journey to bring the heritage and fun to the Olcott community. Less than a year later, the first Niagara Celtic Festival, across the highway bridge from the present site, drew about 500 visitors.
The three remain the driving force behind the festival that captures the imagination and immerses visitors in the Scottish, Irish and Welsh cultures. They pushed on for the first five years as locals got a better understanding of what they were trying to present, and it blossomed into an ever-growing and changing signature event for the Newfane/Olcott community.
Last year’s festival drew well over 10,000 visitors. A visit to the official website at www.niagaraceltic.com lists complete schedules for all events and participants. If everyone is Irish on St. Patty’s Day, surely everyone who steps through the gate this weekend will be embraced by the Celt family.