2018 Southern Maryland Celtic Festival in St. Leonard

St. Leonard, MD – If there was ever a day tailor made for the 40th annual Southern Maryland Celtic Festival and Highland Gathering held at Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum in St. Leonard, Saturday, April 28 was it. Sunny skies and summer-like temperatures brought patrons out in droves.

“The weather was favorable,” said Celtic Society of Southern Maryland Chairperson Mary Beth Dent. “That helped a lot.”

Although the actual tally of how many attended the annual event will not be known until next month, Dent said she did know that 4,000 tickets were sold at the gate “by early afternoon. We certainly had a good crowd,” she added, estimating as many as 7,000 or more may have turned out. “It runs differently throughout the day. There’s a turnover. Some people come early and then leave and a whole new group of people show up.”

Dent noted that there are approximately 30 people assigned to different areas at the festival they’re responsible for. “We work on planning the festival all year ‘round,” she said. “We’ve already started on the next one. We have copious notes that we have to sift through if there’s something that needs to be tweaked.”

And while the festival draws thousands from the Southern Maryland area, many come from all over the United States. “A lot of people come from outside of Southern Maryland,” Dent stated. “My granddaughter came down from Boston with friends. A grandson from Texas came as well, so it’s not just people from Southern Maryland.”
Many of the performers come from far away as well. One bagpipe band came from Pittsburgh. Some musicians came from as far away as Florida just to perform in the event.

The Southern Maryland Celtic Festival is one of many that occur throughout the region. Maryland has many more and then Virginia and Pennsylvania have festivals as well.

“Many of the early Maryland settlers were from Scotland,” she added. “Fort McHenry was named after the first secretary of war under George Washington. There were a lot of Scottish and Irish people who came to Maryland and we’re all their descendants. The Scots like to celebrate and get together. The Irish like to go drinking and get together. There is a revival now of ‘where are my roots?’ We heard a lot of talk about DNA testing over the weekend.”

This was Dent’s last year as chair of the festival. Jackie Waymeyer will be taking over next year. “Maybe I’ll finally have the chance to enjoy the festival,” she said.