On Sept. 23-25, downtown Bethlehem will again come alive with all things Celtic as we host the 35th Annual Celtic Classic.
35 years! How is that possible? And yet it’s true. For 35 years, Bethlehem has celebrated the Celtic culture through various activities, competitions, music, food, performances, and crafts. From the beginning, Donegal Square has supported Celtic Classic and the Celtic Cultural Alliance since its inception in 1987.
It all began with a simple thought, a moment of inspiration. In 1987 local businessman Bob Vigilio approached Neville with the idea of creating a Celtic Fest. True to form, Neville warmed to the idea that a true Celtic Festival would provide an opportunity to promote the Celtic culture and for folks to learn about and experience it authentically. He was in!
Before long, Scott Walker, a local piper, Einone Welsh, whose interest is Irelander athletics, and Paul Ferency, joined Neville and Bob. They became the original A-team for the Celtic Cultural Alliance, which would head up Celtic Fest.org. and Celtic Classic.
Their mission was clear: Celtic Classic was to be an authentic immersion experience in the Celtic culture through various events.
It was to be modeled after Musikfest. Therefore, there would be many types of experiences, and they would all be FREE.
It would educate young and old or anyone that wanted to learn about the culture. Therefore, it must be authentic- whether music, games, vendors, food, etc., being culturally accurate is paramount.
It would be FUN for the whole family. A good assortment of activities must appeal to various age groups and skill levels.
It would be a haven to experience the Celtic culture without political or religious agendas. The primary focus of Celtic Classic is to celebrate the culture in all its beauty and richness and to highlight the common heritage of all Celtic peoples.
Now, after 35 years, the original A-team has changed, but the spirit of Celtic Classic has not: visit us, enjoy the events, soak up the culture, enjoy the food, and have FUN!! Celtic Classic is for everyone, and we look forward to seeing you at the shop or the tent under the bridge.
For 2022 the theme of Celtic Classic is “We Make Plaid Trendy.” In keeping with tradition, there are five stages of continuous entertainment featuring international, national, and regional artists. There is a Pipe Band Competition, US National Highland Athletic Championships, the “Showing of the Tartan” Parade, a Haggis Competition, a Fiddle Competition, a marketplace, and a Cultural Children’s Activity Area. Along with ethnic food and drink, there is something for everyone.
For finer details and the full schedule of events, go to www.celticfest.org.
As a purebred Irishman, my family has been lucky enough to grow up in Bethlehem with everything Irish since they were born. Now they bring their own children to Celticfest as a generational legacy. They learned Irish dance and harp, researched their genealogy, learned how to spin a yarn from Seamus Kennedy,
Watched in amazement as the border collies took the field, and decorated their homes in shamrocks and all things Gaelic. To think it was born of a few gents sipping a pint, and thinking of a grande festival of Irishman!!
We are so blessed to have watched the growth of the Bethlehem Celts for 35 years! Congratulations!