BELFAST, Maine — This weekend, the sounds of Celtic music and the sights of Scottish Highland dances, Highland games, men in kilts and the infamous cod toss will enliven the city during the fourth annual Maine Celtic Celebration.
One popular activity, the New World Cheese Rolling Championship, has had an upgrade, according to volunteer Fritz Lyon. Cheese rolling — the art of chasing a large Cheddar wheel downhill alongside a pack of hungry competitors — dates back to the 1800s in the United Kingdom, according to Lyon. One annual event held near Gloucester has claimed the world championship title for the unusual sport, but that event has been canceled this year — and so Belfast has stepped up to the plate.
“It will be a ‘day that will live in infamy,’” organizer Bob MacGregor jokingly predicted in a press release.
The mission of the Maine Celtic Celebration is to renew the “rich Celtic history, culture and hospitality found along the coast of Maine,” according to the release.
Belfast residents decided a few years ago that a Celtic celebration would be a natural fit for the city that was founded by Scottish-Irish immigrants and carries the name of the capital of Northern Ireland, one volunteer said during last summer’s festival. Thousands came to the waterfront then to listen, watch, laugh, eat and otherwise celebrate, and organizers hope this weekend will bring much of the same.
The festival will kick off Saturday morning with Maine Highland Fiddlers, a Celtic Breeds Dog Show and a Celtic 5K road race. Other notable opportunities to compete and admire include the Men in Kilts competition, a Mud Flats Tug of War, the Kids Wellington Boot Toss and the Molly Malone Wheelbarrow Race.
Music acts include Cape Breton Island’s Colin Grant Band, Frank Taylor, the Flying Scotsman, traditional Irish band Boghat and the midcoast’s Old Grey Goose.
“It gets more fun every year,” MacGregor said. “There is always something for everyone to enjoy, even though some may come to watch rather than compete.”
For information visit www.mainecelticcelebration.com or call 338-2692.