Celtic Classic is back featuring music, athletics and some yummy haggis

Written by on September 23, 2021

Celtic Classic is back featuring music, athletics and some yummy haggis

By Hayden Mitman

September 23, 2021

A parade during a past Celtic Classic festival. Photo | Courtesy of the Celtic Classic Facebook page.

The sounds of the Scottish Highlands return every year with the Celtic Classic Highland Games and Festival. They’ve filled the air for more than three decades. 

Now in its 34th year, the Celtic Classic, billed as the largest free Celtic festival in North America, returns to Bethlehem after missing 2020, due to COVID-19.

But unless attendance improves, it may be the last.

“It’s an important year, because, if we don’t walk away from this financially successful, this may very well be our last festival,” Marcie Mulligan director of Cultural Education of the Celtic Cultural Alliance, said.

The alliance counts on the sales of food, beer and merchandise.

Mulligan said she’s excited for the festival’s return and, new this year, the Pennsylvania Irish 69th Encampment will join the festivities. 

“It’s a group that sets up their tents, and they sing music and they act like they would in the civil war time,” Mulligan said.

On Friday, the festival will hold the “Haggis Bowl” which Mulligan described as Scotland’s national dish. 

It’s pretty tasty, she said.

“To me, it’s like the equivalent of scrapple. When you eat scrapple, I don’t think you read the label,” she said.

For those who don’t know, the label on Haggis might read: “a medley of sheep organs stuffed into a sheep stomach and then boiled.”

The winner will be the contestant who can eat the fastest.

The eating competition is a tradition for the Celtic Classic and it will be held at 5:15 p.m. Sept. 24 at the Fest’s Highland Field. 

To present the mostly outdoor event safely organizers have worked closely with Bethlehem’s Health Bureau and will be following state and federal guidelines. 

Celtic Classic Festival and the U.S. National Highland Games will run from Sept. 24-26.

The 3-day event will feature food, live music and athletic events that have changed little since they originated in medieval Scotland. 

The festival is free to attend. 

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