Pipes in the Valley

The Riverfront Center in Hartford, Connecticut will be crammed with Celts of all colours today for the annual Pipes in the Valley Festival. The event’s entertainment coordinator Jason McClellan brings us up to speed on what attendees can expect.

What are your roles and responsibilities with the event?
My primary roles are locating and booking the entertainment for the fest, as well as choosing which beers will be poured besides the ones brewed by our brewery.-

What is the event’s core mandate?
We aim to provide the highest quality Celtic entertainment in New England.

How has it grown over the years?
We started at an Elks Club in East Hartford in 2001 and had around 500 people, last year was our 8th year at the Riverfront Plaza in Hartford and we had approximately 25,000 attendees-

Who attends the gathering?
We have people come from Delaware to Canada.

What can they expect to experience this year?
This year we are bringing back old favorites Albannach and Rathkeltair as well as two new bands, Celtica and Searson.

Why is it an important event for the Celtic community there?
I feel it provides a nice venue for the Celtic community to come out and see some great music, shop at many great vendors, eat some really good food, and drink some great Scottish inspired locally brewed beers.  People can come out with their families and experience a great Celtic fest in a beautiful venue and show their Celtic pride. I always try to get a few local bands to perform so that they can grow their fan-base.

Why is it an important event for the non-Celtic community there?
The non-Celtic community gets introduced to a culture they might not know. New bands, some great artisans, and they get to see how much pride the Celtic community has in their heritage.

What are the plans for the event in the years ahead?
We’re always on the look out for new bands that we haven’t seen before. We brought the Red Hot Chilli Pipers over here for their first public concert ever in the US five years ago.

Is enough being done to preserve and promote Celtic culture?
I believe so, we do a lot of beer events and at almost everyone someone is wearing a kilt.  Our tap-handle for our flagship beer is a bagpiper and people are always drawn to that.-

What can we be doing better?
Just promote the camaraderie and pride that the Celtic people have in their heritage.  It’s not all bagpipes and caber tossing – there is a great community of people who want to share their love of their heritage with others.