Since 2011 now, a property at 4925 Collett Road in Shortsville has hosted a gathering of the clans — and pipers, and musicians, and caber-tossers, and many more, giving a hearty "Céad Míle Failte" — or a hundred thousand welcomes — to folks fascinated by Celtic culture.
The Finger Lakes Celtic Games & Festival returns this Saturday, May 18, from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., and festival director Ben Beavers, whose nonprofit Finger Lakes Celtic Society runs the event, is hoping to see 4,000 people through the gates this year.
They'll find plenty to do, with a full schedule of Highland Games, bagpipers, Celtic musical acts, vendors offering all manner of merchandise and artistry, and food to fit any palate — from hot dogs to haggis — plus more than a dozen clans and heritage societies offering information about Celtic culture. And this fest takes the broad view of Celtic culture, encompassing seven distinct "Celtic nations," areas in Europe where Celtic languages or cultural attributes have survived: Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, the Isle of Man, Brittannia (in northwestern France) and Galicia (in northwestern Spain).
A Highland highlight of the festival is the Highland Heavy Games, nine tests of strength — "basically a strong-man competition," Beavers notes — some of which go back at least to the 12th century and likely much earlier. The most iconic is the caber (Gaelic for "tree") toss, involving throwing a straight log similar to a telephone pole — with the object to lift and balance the caber, run, and toss or flip it over end so it lands and falls at a perfect "12 o'clock" position. Other games include Braemar and Clachneart tosses — both involving large stones, with the Braemar tosser standing with feet planted and the Clachneart tosser throwing with a spin like a shot putter — and weight throws for both height and distance.
For those stirred by the pipes, prepare to be stirred: There's a full day of pipe bands, with all of them coming together — some 180 pipers en masse — at noon during the opening ceremonies. Participating pipe bands include: Gordon Highlanders, 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.; LBS Highlanders, 10:20 a.m., 2:20 p.m.; MacKenzie Highlanders, 10:40 a.m., 2:40 p.m.; Rochester Scottish Pipe Band, 11 a.m., 3 p.m.; City Thorold Pipe Band, 1, 3:20 p.m.; Buffalo Caledonian Pipes and Drums, 1:20, 3:40 p.m.; Feadan Or, 1:40, 4 p.m.
Musical (and dance) entertainment on the main stage includes Knack Fiddlers, 9:25 a.m.; Clan Tankerous, 10:20 a.m.; Dungarees, 11:05 a.m.; Dady Brothers, 12:45 p.m.; May Pole, 1:45 p.m.; Catch and Release, 2:15 p.m.; Everheart, 4 p.m.; and Old World Warblers, 6 p.m. On the Food Court Stage: Old World Warblers, 9:30 a.m.; Scottish Dance, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.; Brass Spittoon, 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.; Tom Keefer, 3 p.m.; and Step in Time, 4:30 p.m.
There will also be a Celtic warfare reenactmen tby Children of the Myst at 1 p.m. on the parade grounds; a maypole dance at 1:45 p.m.; and demonstrations throughout the day on skills ranging from beekeeping to weaving, from blacksmithing to caber tossing to the care and feeding of alpacas; as well as an education tent to learn about various aspects of Cetlic dress and culture; and a kids' area with children's activities.
Admission at the gate is $12 adults, $10 ages 6-16 and those over 60, and free for ages 5 and younger. (Advance sale ticket prices are available online at www.flceltic.org.
Chì mi thu a dh’ aithghearr! (That's Scots Gaelic for "See you soon!")
An acapella benefit
The Finger Lakes a capella group So Noted — a recently formed 10-voice unit performing jazz, show tunes and popular and traditional melodies — will perform a benefit concert for St. Michael's Orthodox Church in Geneva on Sunday, May 19. The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. at the church at 98 Genesee St.
The group — with members from a wide region, ranging from Geneva to Churchville, and from backgrounds ranging from opera to musical theater to barbershop — made its debut in early 2018 at Smith Opera House and was met with enthusiatic acclaim. It's hosting the benefit as a way to say thank you to St. Michael's, which has hosted rehearsals for the group.
The performance is free, but donations for the church are welcomed.
Annie, get your script
Geneva Theatre Guild Youth Theatre will hold auditions Tuesday, May 21, and Wednesday, May 22, at Geneva High School for its summer musical, "Annie Get Your Gun." The tale of sharpshooters Annie Oakley and Frank Butler features the music of Irving Berlin.
The show has many lead and featured roles and also includes a large ensemble. Area youth going into grades 5-7 are invited to audition 5:30-6:30 p.m. and those going into grade 8 through graduating seniors are invited to audition 6:30-8:30 p.m. (either day, for both). Possible callbacks will be held on Thursday, May 23. The auditions will be in the chorus room of Geneva High School, 101 Carter Road.
"Annie Get Your Gun" will be presented Aug. 2-4 at Smith Opera House in Geneva, to help celebrate the 125th building of the historic Geneva landmark and venue.
The next installment of the Rochester Folkus acoustic-music series at Downstairs Cabaret Theatre will feature clawhammer banjo virtuoso Howie Bursen — a quadruple-threat who also sings, plays guitar and writes songs, with a repertoire ranging from traditional to contemporary. The concert is at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 22 at Downstairs Cabaret Theatre, 20 Windsor St. in Rochester, and will be followed by a time for locals to offer a song if they wish. Admission is $10; reservations (not required) can be made at 585-325-4370.
Next up on Rochester Folkus: Bonnie Abrams and Allen Hopkins, offering folk, original songs and Yiddish traditional music on May 29.