Story and Photos by Elizabeth Robinson
On the weekend of Nov. 2, down the river from the hipsters and headbangers at the seventh annual Fun Fun Fun Fest, a slightly different crowd gathered at Fiesta Gardens to celebrate a rich cultural history. Now in its 16th year, the Austin Celtic Festival has grown tremendously — from its roots in a pub parking lot with a single stage to a weekend-long event with four stages, a dog parade and sporting tournaments.
Kilt-clad festival-goers and their normal-clothes-wearing counterparts have the chance to dance at dance workshops, develop musical technique at the fiddle, guitar and Irish drum workshops and listen to stories and view demonstrations of the traditional Celtic way of life. Visitors were also able to take home a piece of Celtic culture via vendor booths selling clothing, jewelry and all things Celtic.
Celtic culture, though specific to the northeastern European region, contains common themes unanimous across different cultures.
Festival Director Donnelle McKaskle finds the spirit of the music unites the masses. “No matter where you roam along the grounds of the festival, you hear the sounds of the music,” she says. “Whether is it the drone of the Highland pipes, the sawing of the fiddle or a ballad whose melody sounds strange yet familiar, it is something everyone takes home with them.”