A celebration of the music, games, food and drink of Ireland, Scotland and Wales returns for another year at Tussey Mountain this weekend.
The sixth annual CelticFest will take place from 5:30 to 10 p.m. on Friday and the event has become an increasingly popular draw for Tussey Mountain.
"It’s definitely got a loyal following of fans that look forward to it every year," said Aaron Weyman, Tussey Mountain marketing director. "We get people who reach out to us in the winter and ask us when it’s going to be. We certainly see a lot of repeat customers."
Celtic rock bands The Ogham Stones from Lancaster and Pittsburgh-based Bastard Bearded Irishmen, who Weyman said "have a lot of energy and are a lot of fun," are scheduled to perform. State College fiddler Bruce Young will play between sets and the local Tir na Nog Irish Dance will perform.
Visitors also can participate in Tussey's version of the Highland Games, with caber toss (flipping a 17-foot post), stone throw and tug-of-war.
"They’re our take on the Highland Games you’d see on ESPN2 or something, but it’s not quite as intense or as official as those types of events," Weyman said.
Of course food and drink will share a Celtic theme as well. Offerings will include shepherd's pie, bangers and mash, Dublin coddle and corned beef. For those over 21, beers like Guinness, Harp, Smithwick's, Kilkenny, and Jolly Scot Scottish Ale, as well as Irish cider and Jameson whiskey also will be available.
Other food and drink will be available, too.
"It is a family-friendly, kid-friendly event, so there will be barbecue and other festival foods for kids that might not want to try the authentic stuff, even though we think they would really like it," Weyman said.
Admission is $5, or for $10 attendees also will receive a 16-ounce glass and four food and beverage tickets. Children 12 and under are admitted free with an paying adult. As with other amphitheater events at Tussey, food and drink are purchased with tickets, and unused tickets from past events like the annual Wingfest or Oktoberfest may be used.
"Wingfest is our most popular event and people will come out and buy a lot of tickets," Weyman said. "We want to give them more opportunities to use those tickets."
CelticFest is one of two events this year, along with Oktoberfest, for which Tussey Mountain received a recently-announced tourism grant from the Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau. The grants were opened up to private businesses for the first time this year.
Weyman said the grant helped to advertise the festival in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., areas beyond Tussey's typical marketing.
"We’re hoping this will work out this year and we’ll be able to attract some people from outside the market for this," he said. "In the past we’ve always gotten a few people from outside where we really market, but not a lot."
He added that the goal in the future is to apply for a tourism grant that would support a separate concert, "something a little bigger," bringing a nationally touring band to Tussey Mountain.
"We want to get used to the process of it all and learn from it, really maximize the partnership we’ve had with the visitors bureau for a while, but that we just haven’t had through this [grant] program," Weyman said. "[CelticFest] was an early event in the planning stages when the grant became available for for-profit businesses, so we really just wanted to get in by the deadline and experience the whole process. Going forward we hope this works out well for both parties."
CelticFest, meanwhile, continues to bring people of all ages and backgrounds, and they are encouraged to celebrate in style.
"We encourage people to show up in the spirit of the event, and people will do that, wear kilts or even their favorite soccer club shirt or kit," Weyman said "You’ll see people from all cultures and backgrounds out here enjoying it. It’s just a really nice spot whenever the weather cooperates to have music playing and we’re looking forward to it. It’s typically been one of our earlier events to kick off the amphitheater season, get us ready for Wingfest."