BANGOR, Maine — Fiddles and feet flew, harps were strummed and stories and fairy tales were told during Bangor’s first celebration of its Celtic heritage at several city venues Thursday through Saturday.
The Bangor Celtic Crossroads Festival, a three-day bash, aimed to bring high quality music and cultural programming to the city from the six Celtic nations — Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Brittany and the Isle of Man — as well as the diaspora, including Maine.
Highlights included music by harpist Darynn Rockett, the Celtic group Coig, Matt and Sharon Heaton and fiddler Gus LaCasse, an exhibit of Jim Counihan’s photos of Ireland, Celtic story time at the Briar Patch, and a recounting of a Scottish fairy tale and Irish genealogy workshops at the Bangor Public Library.
Kim Meyerdierks of Bangor, whose mother’s family descended from the Irish Kiley and Doyle families, got pointers on online and printed Irish genealogy resources during one of the two workshops on the topic led by Betsy Paradis, a local history librarian.
“I knew nothing about my mother’s side. I know her father died when she was young, bits and pieces before I started [research] in the 1990s,” she said.
“I found a lot today I didn’t know [about using the library’s online genealogy resources, including Ancestry Library],” she said. “I actually found my mother’s other father’s marriage certificate today, which I did not have.
“I was so glad when I heard they were doing a [Celtic] festival here. I thought great, and now I have a connection at the library, so I’m thrilled,” she said. “Hopefully, they’ll have this next year, and I’ve love to see some more groups come in from Cape Breton and all that. I’d really like to see this take off.”
Sean Faircloth, a Bangor city councilor and Celtic Crossroads board member, said that the mini-festival that took place over the weekend was what organizers hope will be a larger event next year, with the possible addition of poetry, literature and libations.
“People were extremely enthusiastic,” he said late Saturday afternoon. “I’m excited about it because I think, this being the first year, we can see this expand with something even more rich.”
He also said with Celtic events around New England and the Maritimes, Bangor might be able to get its spot on the festival circuit.
“This would add something really distinctive and valuable for the leaf-peeping season,” he said. “There could be some value in attracting some of the people who would otherwise bypass Bangor. I just think it has huge potential to grow into an annual event of real meaning for the Greater Bangor area.”