irishphiladelphia.com - May 23, 2019
Yes, there are kilts—in at least one case, obligatory. Sure, there’s ax throwing, bagpipes, a kilted fun run, and highland games. But Kilt Fest, coming to Bucks County June 7 and 8, is really a mishmash of all Celtic culture.
Kilt Fest on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware is an offshoot of a festival by the same name held in New Jersey. This will be the first year here in the Philadelphia suburbs, at the Trifecta Sporting Club, 4666 East Bristol Road, Feasterville-Trevose.
“Ours is more of a Celtic festival. We have Irish and Scots,” says organizer Chris Beyer, owner of American Highlander Kilts. “A lot of it is Irish. It’s easier to get Irish involved in these things. We try to keep it where it’s a little more all-inclusive.”
So for example, the entertainment includes bands like na Bodach and the Kilted Rogues, both of which combine Scottish and Irish elements, together with entertainers like CJ Mills and Seamus McGroary. By all-inclusive, Beyer adds, that means Scots and Irish, of course, but also the Welsh and other Celtic nations.
The idea for Kilt Fest goes back several years. “I was hoping we could have a festival where people could show up in kilts, and we were trying to think of what that would be—what would a festival be that attracts people in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and even New York,” says Beyer. “And that’s when I thought we could combine the best of Celtic cultures. You know … incorporate the highland games and the kilts of Scotland with the music and food and drinks of Ireland.”
Beyer himself claims Scottish heritage, but also a lot of Irish and even some Welsh.
It turns out, he says, that New Jersey and Pennsylvania have large Scottish and Welsh populations—in addition to the Irish.
As an example: Ewing, N.J., where Beyer’s business is based. “Ewing is part of Mercer County, and Mercer County is named after General Hugh Mercer, who was a Scot from Aberdeen. And it turns out that Ewing and Hamilton—those are Scottish names, and those are all towns in New Jersey near Trenton, where I am from. It turned out that I was sitting on top of a hotbed of Celtic culture and didn’t even realize it.”
Kilt Fest Runs from 6 p.m. to midnight on the 7th, and from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on the 8th.
On the agenda for the 8th: a kilted fun run from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. (kilts mandatory); Gaelic sports from 12 noon to 5 p.m.; kids’ highland games from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.; Irish dance from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and much more. There will be plenty of Celtic chow, and vendors. There’s also the American Highlander Invitational, a Gaelic football tournament.
Kilt Fest is a non-profit, supporting veterans’ causes like Mission 22, a veterans’ outreach organization. For more details: https://www.kiltfestusa.com.
Jeff is one of the founding editors of irishphiladelphia.com.