If former Holland City Councilmember Craig Rich’s vision comes true, downtown Holland’s Window on the Waterfront Park will be the site of a new regional festival celebrating Irish and Scottish heritage and culture in 2022.
Rich has marched in Holland’s St. Patrick’s Day parade for years, and regularly attends Irish and Scottish festivals and Highland Games around the state.
He’s part of a Holland-based group that wants to host the first Holland Waterfront Celtic Festival & Highland Games next June. The event site is the 3-acre Riverview Park portion of the Window On The Waterfront, along the Macatawa Marsh.
Rich, the spokesman for the Holland Celtic Society and co-director of the event with Peter Grimm, says the festival is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, June 24-25, 2022. “As a group, we began talking about this early in April, and Pete and I have been laying the groundwork ever since.”
Grimm added, “We’ve had discussions with the mayor, city manager, Parks and Recreation personnel, the Holland Visitors Bureau, and the Downtown Holland marketing group, with nearly universal acceptance and support. And now, the important task of recruiting sponsors and volunteers begins.”
The event is to feature an on-site Friday evening cèilidh (Kay’-Lee), which is an Irish dance and music party, followed on Saturday morning by the inaugural Highland Games, in which athletes from across the Great Lakes Region will participate in ancient athletic competitions such as caber tossing, heaving heavy weights over a bar, sheaf tossing over a bar, throwing heavy weights for distance, and others — in both men’s and women’s divisions — all while wearing traditional Scottish kilts.
Two stages will be filled throughout the day with Irish bands, and both Scottish and Irish dancers. A kids’ area will offer entertainment for the “wee bairns” — or small children — while the new Outdoor Discovery Center Nature Play Park is accessible adjacent to the festival site.
Scottish clans or families from across the nation, dressed in their family tartans, will set up tents and share family history and traditions, while craft and retail vendors will offer Celtic goods, such as woolens, jewelry, clothing, family crest items, and other goods.
Scottish and Irish foods also will be available throughout the daylong festival, as well as assistance with Irish, Scottish, and other Celtic genealogy. An on-site pub will offer liquid libations for attendees.
“The success of movies like ‘Braveheart’ and ‘Highlander,’ and TV series such as ‘Outlander,’ have stirred interest in Scottish, Irish and other Celtic genealogy and history,” Rich says. “This is a chance for West Michigan residents to discover their Celtic roots and enjoy a day of celebration.”
The group is calling for volunteers to organize and staff the event. Learn more at HollandCelticFestival.org