Celtic Fest leaves folks seeing plaid

LEETONIA -- A little rain didn't keep some people away from celebrating their Scottish, Irish or Welsh heritage at Sunday's sixth Annual Celtic Festival.
Their solution?
Plaid umbrellas.
About 15 booths, selling a variety of goods from kilts to Welsh foods, were set up in front of a pavilion at Wick Park where storytellers, harpists and pipe bands performed throughout the afternoon.
Heather MacNaughton said she organized the festival because she wanted to bring the community together and bring people into Leetonia.
MacNaughton has been playing in pipe bands since she was 9 years old.
"But I won't tell you how long ago that was," she said before giving the history of pipers in her family.
MacNaughton's father and grandfather were pipers. Her niece is a drum major; her nephew and son are also drummers.
"It's kind of a family affair," MacNaughton said.
Members of her family performed later in the afternoon.
Educational experience
Although the festival gave some families an opportunity to get in touch with their heritage, it also gave vendors the opportunity to educate.
"People don't know the difference between a kilt and a skirt," said Sue Buchanan of Leetonia. Buchanan and MacNaughton pulled together their Scottish items for an educational booth at the festival.
Buchanan held up 71/2 yards of plaid fabric to show just how much fabric goes into making a Scottish military kilt.
"A real kilt uses 9 yards. That's where the saying, 'The whole nine yards comes from,'" she said, pointing to the pleats on the back of the military Scottish model at the end of the table.
"This is where all of that yardage goes," Buchanan said, adding that this is the outfit that most pipe band performers wear.
The rest of the table is filled with other items, including a feathered hat that Scottish drum majors wear, penny whistles and a skean dhu, a traditional small knife.
"You know, for a long time when England took over Scotland, there was a rule that said they [Scots] could only have a blade that was as long as their palms," Buchanan said, holding the skean dhu up against her palm.
Buchanan said she became interested in Scottish culture when she had to write a paper about an interesting topic in high school.
"I wrote about the dress of a Highlander. It was the most bizarre topic I could come up with," Buchanan said.
Don't ever say that a high school paper never got you anywhere -- Buchanan has been in four pipe bands since her interest was sparked by her report.
Organizational booths
It's hard to miss the man in plaid sitting underneath the Canton Akron Scottish Heritage Association booth.
Jeff Roberts, vice president of the association, stands out among his fellow association members.
Roberts, Charlene Gillam, Randy Maley and Joanne Maley came to the festival for the first time this year to answer any questions people might have about Scottish heritage.
"Anyone who wants to join the group is welcome to," Roberts said, adding that members do not have to be Scottish to join.
The association has held various programs in the past, including Scottish country dancing, genealogy, kilt making and bagpiping.
Members of the Youngstown Area Weavers Guild also had a booth at the festival. Rows of colorful woven rugs lined a table in front of looms and drop spindles where guild members were busy at work.
Florence Highfield took a break to pull out some of her sample patterns.
"I like color. Here," she said while pulling a colorful rug from the table. Opened on the ground, the rug is about the length of the table.
Among her samples she points out a "shadow weave" or a weave that needs "one dark color, one light color and your wits about you," according to Highfield.
Some patterns take her a couple of hours to set on the loom while others can take her a "good part of the week" on her loom that holds thousands of threads.
Highfield said she began weaving and spinning in 1976.
"Here. Would you like to try?" Highfield asked, pointing to her loom. "It will only take you about a good week to get it down," she laughed.
The guild meets on the second Wednesday of each month at the Canfield Fairgrounds. Anyone interested in learning is welcome.
As the sun peeks from beneath the clouds, The Mickeys are at the pavilion singing about "that demon alcohol."
"It's a true story that happened to us," the lead singer said.
Behind the booths, The MacCallum Highlander Pipes and Drums are warming up.
And some people smile as they tuck away their plaid umbrellas, getting ready to sport plaid kilts for the long-awaited Kilted Mile Run.

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