For 22 years, the Skagit Valley Highland Games have been a staple in summertime Skagit entertainment. It’s a family-oriented festival with lots of live music, dance, sheepdog trials, children’s events, athletic events, a beer and whisky garden—we have come to think of it as a “Celtic three-ring circus” with something for everyone. Every second full weekend in July, the event is put on by the Celtic Arts Foundation, a Mount Vernon-based nonprofit. Executive Director Skye Richendrfer says, “I like to tell people we’re in the ‘celebration business;’ our mission is simply to entertain and inspire—to put smiles on people’s faces by providing a fun event.” The cacophony of sound created by bagpipes and drums, the bright colored Scottish tartans, the smells of the Scottish meatpipes and other food choices, celebrating the history and traditions of Scotland by getting information about your Clan… what’s not to love!?
The Skagit Valley Highland Games stay true to one of the core values of the Celtic Arts Foundation: an enthusiastic for all to come enjoy and learn about Celtic culture, regardless of whether or not they have any Celtic heritage themselves. The heart of the Games is Skagit county and providing a family-oriented and fun weekend for everyone to enjoy. The successes of the Games, however, have drawn a crowd far beyond the reaches of our county. Traditional Scottish musicians and performers travel from around the state, Oregon, Idaho, California, Alaska, and several other states, as well as British Columbia and even the United Kingdom. At almost every Highland Games, there have been performers and competitors from Scotland, including this year’s.
Opportunities abound to connect with Celtic roots. The Skagit Valley Weavers Guild offers demonstrations of traditional weaving and spinning, including a “sheep to shawl” event which showcases the shearing of a sheep’s wool and transforming it into wool for fabrics. The Skagit Genealogical Society will be present to help Games guests learn more about their Celtic ancestry and what resources exist in our communities to trace genealogical records. A variety of Clans are represented at the Games, so guests can learn more about the Scottish and Irish families they hail from. Tradition is everywhere at the Skagit Valley Highland Games!
Each year we bring in different headline entertainment to perform, and this summer we are pleased to put the spotlight on local Celtic talent from our area. On Saturday, we feature an instrumental Celtic trio, featuring string musicians playing a wide range of traditional Celtic tunes on fiddles, viola and cello. Other performers and groups will also perform, including the Celtic instrumental quartet, “Purit na Gael.” Face-paced reels and jigs, lively tunes and haunting slow airs will all be featured during their performances.
The festivities for the weekend will begin on Friday night at the Littlefield Celtic Center in downtown Mount Vernon, home of the Celtic Arts Foundation. Friday evening marks the Gathering of the Clans dinner, a fun evening of Celtic fellowship with a specially prepared meal and exciting musical performance with special guest Pipe Major Stuart Liddell from Scotland. This meal is open to all and we invite both old and new friends to join us in celebrating another wonderful weekend at the Games. Tickets can be purchased at www.celticarts.org or by calling (360)416-4934.
The 22nd Annual Skagit Valley Highland Games will be held on Saturday, July 9th and Sunday, July 10th at Edgewater Park in downtown Mount Vernon. Tickets are available for pre-purchase online for those who want to skip the line and get straight through the gate; tickets are also available for purchase at the gates throughout both days. We would like to invite the community to learn more about the Celtic Arts Foundation by visiting us online at www.celticarts.org and considering membership in our organization. One benefit of membership is free admission to the Highland Games each year (the cost of a family membership, $50, is the same cost as a family weekend pass). Please contact us at (360)416-4934 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about the Skagit Valley Highland Games or the Celtic Arts Foundation.