Saturday, June 29, 2013

Have fun at the Celtic Festival, but don't barf on my boots

My people are in town for a party.

My people are the Celts, descendants of a loose band of European tribes who eventually settled Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Some of them made their way to the Western Wildlands of America where they built the railroads, mined coal, opened bars and played the bagpipes at funerals.

The party is the Cheyenne Celtic Musical Arts Festival, held this last weekend in June at the Historic Depot downtown. It features concerts, vendors, a gathering of clans, a parade, Irish step-dancers and a fiddle contest. Beer and food, too. There are Scottish-Americans in kilts walking around with flasks disguised as cell phones and pens. A clever lot, those Scots. We Irish-Americans just walk around openly with a pint of Guinness or a black-and-tan, preferably one in each hand.

"The drink" has not been kind to the Irish. I drink, but the drink has never laid claim to my soul as it has to so many of my brethren and sistren. Without it we wouldn't be the Irish, I suppose, but with it.... It may lead to good stories and music, but it's laid waste to a lot of us.

Enough with the teetotaling talk. It's a downer at festival time.

One of the key elements of any Celtic fest is the Scottish-Irish-Welsh heritage. There are whole counties in Appalachia populated by Scots-Irish. They gave us bluegrass, folk and country music traditions, and a feisty attitude. Unions, too, as the Scots-Irish miners rose up against their Scots-Irish millionaire overlords. We've always been good at pummelling our own kind.

Last night, after the torch-lit march of the clans (my wife Chris was in there with the Cumming clan), there was much talk about the 2014 vote on Scottish independence. Some are for it, some against it. "The Staggers" blog at The New Statesman says that if the vote on the "devolution settlement" were held today, Scotland would remain in the U.K. First of all, doesn't "the staggers" refer to a state of staggering drunkenness? Secondly, I though that the devolution issue was settled once and for all in the 1970s with Mark Mothersbaugh and Devo.

In the so-called British Isles, history binds and history divides.

And gets increasing confusing to us colonials.

All of the Celtic or Scots-Irish festivals I've attended have been fun. There's even a Celtic band in Cheyenne called Gobs O'Phun. That's what it should be about, after all.

So, get out to the plaza this evening to enjoy Molly's Revenge and Ceili Rain, which lit up the stage last night. Enjoy a draught or two of Guinness. But I warn you, if you throw up on my boots, I'll apply my shillelagh to your noggin. That tradition is Irish and Western.

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