Halifax Celtic Festival

hcfThe inaugural Halifax Celtic Festival takes place in the heart of Nova Scotia’s capital city tomorrow with a host of events for the entire family. Here, co-organizer Rick Grant tells us about the gathering’s origins and what attendees can expect.

What are your own roots?
Primarily, I am Scottish with a mixture of Irish, Isle of Man, Norse and French. My family roots in Nova Scotia span 100 plus years.

When and why did you get involved with this event?
The genesis for this event began through my experience on the Board of Directors of The Scots, The North British Society.  As Event Chair, two of the specific events that I organized, the combined Scots and Charitable Irish Harbour Cruise, and the pub nights to raise funds in support of Gaelic Language education and programs, demonstrated to me that together we can create positive initiatives to support the efforts of individuals and groups to preserve promote and expand their specific interests in their heritage and culture whether it be language, dance, music, tradition skills. My involvement, through the Scots, with The Federation of Clans (at the time) in The Halifax Highland Games, The International Gathering of the Clans and the Scots Golf Tournament cemented my belief that together we had to support each other while at the same time informing all Nova Scotians of the impact that Celtic Culture had and has on the fabric of the Province. The initial discussions of the concept started about 8 years ago. The idea kind of went on the back burner until 2011 when, I was asked to attend a meeting with members of the Federation for Scottish Culture to discuss a revival of the Halifax Highland Games. During those discussions, I broached the idea of a combined Celtic Nations event, it was decided that Tom Wallace and I would look into it further. Since Brian Doherty and I had discussed this idea on a number of occasions, I arranged a meeting with him. Coincidentally he informed me that there was interest in developing an Irish Festival in Halifax to coincide with the naming of Irishtown. Following that meeting, Tom Wallace, Roberta Dexter, Brian and I decided to explore the idea of the Celtic Cultural Festival. After a few months of discussion, we took the concept back to our respective interest groups. They thought it was worthwhile to pursue. The end result was the establishment of the Celtic Cultural Society of Nova Scotia as a non profit society the last week of January 2013.

What are the rewards?
The establishment of the Society and the fact that in 8 months we were able to obtain funding to establish Halifax’s first Celtic Cultural Festival dedicated to the promotion and preservation of all aspects of Celtic Culture.

Why is it an important event for the community here?
It was established as a vehicle to specifically enhance and hopefully expand the Celtic Community organizations in their endeavours to be sustainable. For the overall community it is an event to showcase the fact that Nova Scotia was 392 years old on September 10.

What can attendees expect this year?
A free family event, containing a variety of entertainment including musicians, dancers, Pipe and Drum Bands, children’s activities, displays, arts and carfts, and a Nova Scotia Birthday celebration.

What are the challenges of being involved?
Getting it started and getting buy in from Celtic Community organizations. Obtaining sponsors. Getting the word out.

Are we doing enough to preserve and promote Celtic culture generally?
To date it has been generally organization generated specific. Overall, our hope for the Festival is to create awareness of the many aspects of Celtic Culture so that those directly involved in maintaining those aspects will have a venue.

What can we be doing better?
Recognize to preserve and promote our collective heritage and culture we need support each other’s efforts.

What does the future look like for the event?
Through input from and dialogue with interested stakeholders, we are striving to grow and expand the Halifax Celtic Cultural Festival into an anticipated yearly happening that not only celebrates its Celtic Heritage and Culture but also Nova Scotia’s Birthday.