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|Celtic Fest offers look at our region's roots|
When the Northeast Louisiana Celtic Festival takes to the stage at the Ike Hamilton Expo Center in West Monroe this October, the visitors there won't just be getting good music.
According to festival organizer Doyle Jeter, festival patrons will also be getting a glimpse of their Celtic heritage.
"Seventy percent of the people in northeast Louisiana can trace their roots back to Irish or Scottish origins," said Jeter, the proprietor of an Irish pub in Monroe.
"Northeast Louisiana is becoming more and more referred to as Celtic Louisiana," Jeter said.
The Fourth Annual Celtic Festival runs Oct. 25 and 26 and will feature a number of world-renowned Irish and Celtic music acts — including perennial favorite Needfire out of Dallas, Tex.
Also on the entertainment roster are other big names such as Jimmy Crowley, from County Cork, Ireland and Scotland's own Ed Miller.
National Public Radio program "Celtic Connections" host Brian Kelso Crow will be on hand throughout the festival as well.
Jeter said the festival's impressive lineup is one of the reasons it has attracted international attention.
"Smithsonian Magazine, Louisiana Life, Louisiana Cooking and Southern Living have all recognized the Northeast Louisiana Celtic Festival as one of the top festivals in the region," Jeter said. "We're also listed as a festival in national and international Irish newspapers as a festival to be reckoned with."
Also, Bord Failte, the Irish tourism board, recognizes the Northeast Louisiana Celtic Festival as one of it's international events.
Jeter said among this year's additions to the festival is a major change in venue. Moving to the Ike Hamilton Expo Center has allowed the festival to go indoors — and that means it will be impervious to rain.
"The highland games are outdoors but we even have an alternative plan to bring them inside as well," Jeter said.
Highland games are the Scottish equivalent of a field day and feature a number of sports, such as Caber tossing.
A caber is a 25-foot long post weighing as much as 130 pounds, tossed end over end.
In previous years, the Celtic festival has featured the games as an exhibition, but this year, there will be an all-out competition, as a fully-sanctioned Highland Games judge will be on hand to award points for the competition.
Jeter also touted an expansion of the Children's Pavilion as another hallmark of this festival.
Though a children's stage has been featured in the previous three years of the festival, this year's stage will be much busier, Jeter said.
"It is full of not just children's games but educational opportunities for the kids, including a musician's petting zoo — where kids will actually be able to touch instruments, play instruments, meet the musicians who play them and learn about the music," Jeter said.
The festival is family friendly and children twelve and under are admitted free of charge.
Jeter encouraged people who are interested in attending the Northeast Louisiana Celtic Festival to visit the festival web site at www.nelacelticfest.net.