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Celtic festivities on tap; Indian Ranch is event's new host.

Byline: Bonnie Russell

WEBSTER - Eggs, legs and kegs are just a few of the things that can be found at the Blackstone Valley Celtic Festival.

The fifth annual signature festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. July 28 at the Indian Ranch Performance Center on Route 16. The festival moved this year from its previous location at King Farm in Sutton.

Hosted by the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Indian Ranch Performance Center and presenting sponsor Charter Communications, the Blackstone Valley Celtic Festival will use a permanent stage and the backdrop of Webster Lake to create a Celtic world.

"We really wanted to do something special for this festival's fifth year. Using the stage, banquet room and outdoor pavilion at Indian Ranch has made so much sense. It has let us focus on the entertainment and we're sure folks will be thrilled with the talented musicians and performers we've booked," Joseph Deliso, the Chamber's interim executive director, said in a prepared statement.

Beginning with breakfast, the day offers music, dance, children's entertainment, pub-style food and fare, a merchant's village and the opportunity to indulge in all things Celtic until the sun sets.

One of the indulgences is a traditional Irish breakfast, which includes imported Galtee Irish sausages, Irish bacon, black pudding, batchelor beans, home-made Irish bread and eggs. Guests may purchase the meal for $10 at The Celtic Nations Pub & Pavilion. The pub offers both a Celtic pub atmosphere inside with food and grog and performers in the traditional manner, plus an outdoor pavilion section seating 1,000.

The festival will be emceed by comedian George Casey, whose 30-year career includes opening and touring with headliners Rosemary Clooney, Ray Price and Bobby Vinton, among others.

Other performers include: Celtic folk legend piper Paddy Keenan appearing with John Walsh and Jimmy Noonan; Seamus Connolly & Friends; The Robbie O'Connell Band; Celtic Spring - the Wood family step dancers and musicians; Charlie Zahm; vocalist Nan Tom Teaimin; O'Shea-Chaplin Academy of Irish Dance; the McInerney School of Irish Step Dancing; the Tulach Ard Pipe Band and the Worcester Kiltie Band.

Interspersed throughout the day will be workshops on a variety of heritage-oriented themes including presentations by staff and volunteers from Worcester's Higgins Armory Museum.

Back again this year is a Men-in-Kilts contest.

"This colorful contest encourages men to wear kilts to the festival and those who do will receive half off the price of their admission," said Lisa Mosczynski, Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce media relations consultant.

Last year's winner in the category of "most authentic dress" was state Rep. George N. Peterson Jr., R-Grafton. The Web site for the Celtic Festival also hinted that Mr. Peterson won in other categories but added that those interested in finding out more would need to ask Mr. Peterson.

"The one that they are probably referring to is `body of an eagle and legs of a sparrow,'" Mr. Peterson said, adding, "I plan to wear the kilt again this year."

Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the gate. Seniors ages 65 and older and youths ages 16 and younger are $10 in advance and $12 at the gate. Children 8 and younger are free. For more information, including event schedules, and to purchase tickets online, visit the Web sites at www.indianranch.com or www.blackstonevalleycelticfestival.com, or call (508) 943-3871 or (508) 234-9090.

Celtic festival schedule

Saturday, July 28

10 a.m. - Gates open.

Opening ceremony and March of the Colors with the Tulach Ard Pipe Band; presentation of the Colors of the Seven Nations.

11:10 a.m. - Nan Tom Teaimin.

11:15 a.m. - Tulach Ard Pipe Band.

11:45 a.m. - George Casey, Irish comedian and festival host.

Noon - Robbie O'Connell Band.

1 p.m. - Celtic Spring.

2 p.m. - Nan Tom Teaimin.

2:15 p.m. - Charlie Zahm.

3:15 p.m. - Mary McInerney School of Step Dance performance.

3:40 p.m. - Robbie O'Connell Band.

4:30 p.m. - Interlude.

5 p.m. - George Casey

5:10 p.m. - Nan Tom Teaimin.

5:25 p.m. - O'Shea-Chaplin Academy of Irish Dance Performance.

6 p.m. - Seamus Connolly with Joe Derrane & John McGann.

6:45 p.m. - Paddy Keenan with John Walsh and Jimmy Noonan.

7:30 p.m. - Reel to Reel: Paddy Keenan and Seamus Connolly.

8 p.m. - Festival closing ceremony.

Strike of the Colors and March of the Pipes with members of the Worcester Kiltie Pipe Band.

ART: PHOTOS

CUTLINE: (1) Children perform a traditional Irish step dance at the 2005 Celtic Festival. (2) Highlander McCumber of Troy, N.Y., a Scottish culture and history buff, attends Celtic fests when he can.

PHOTOG: T&G FILE PHOTOS
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jul 22, 2007
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