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Big Stone Gap Celtic festival expands for sixth year

Staff Report • Sep 23, 2013 at 11:15 AM

BIG STONE GAP — The 6th annual Big Stone Celtic Day will be all day in Big Stone Gap on Sept. 28, but the Celt bash begins the evening prior with a 7 p.m. concert on Sept. 27.

The town’s Celtic Day offerings will include an expanded children’s program, including a new costume contest for Brave and Braveheart look-alikes, art contest and kiddy caber toss.

Festival board member Gary Johnson, who as a youngster won the caber toss event at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games in Linville, N.C., said he’s been waiting five years to see the Big Stone Gap event literally launch a caber toss.

Essentially, participants in a caber toss pick up one end of a large pole, somehow get it more or less perpendicular, and heave it as far as they can. Johnson said the caber toss at this year’s Celtic Day gives kids a chance “to not only see it, but try it out in a smaller ‘kid sized’ version.”

The free Friday night concert at Mountain Empire Community College’s Goodloe Center on Sept. 27 will feature the music of IONA, sponsored by the area’s Pro-Art Association. IONA has evolved into one of the top rated pan-Celtic groups in the world and is considered a major “get” for this year’s Celtic Day festival.

IONA co-founders Barbara Tresidder Ryan (lead vocals, Celtic bouzouki, guitar and bodhran) and Bernard Argent (wood flute, whistles, doumbek, backup vocals) are joined by U.S. Air Force Band veteran Jim Queen on fiddle, banjo and vocals, and Chuck Lawhorn on six-string bass guitar, whistles and vocals.

The group has released 11 albums, the most recent, “Silver,” their 25th anniversary celebration.

Saturday morning, Sept. 28, events will begin with the Tour de Crackers Neck bike race, a 26-mile timed event starting at Bullitt Park with a route that proceeds through the Powell Valley and ends back in downtown Big Stone Gap.

Registration for Tour de Crackers Neck begins at 8:30 a.m. and the race begins at 9 a.m. The adult entry fee is $20 per bike. Meanwhile, a kiddy bike fun ride will also start at 9 a.m. at Bullitt Park.

The Celtic Parade lineup will begin at 11 a.m. at the Big Stone Gap Volunteer Fire Department on Shawnee Avenue, with the parade start at 11:15 a.m. All comers are welcome to join in the parade.

The Celtic Kitchen will open at 11:45 a.m. offering tasting plates of foods from various Celtic regions. Each plate is $5.

Throughout the day there will be concerts, exhibitions and workshops taking place at Miners Park, The Farmers Market, Miners Museum, the main stage of The Trail of the Lonesome Pine Outdoor Drama, Big Stone Gap Presbyterian Church, the Lonesome Pine Library near Bullitt Park, The Fox House, and Tales of the Lonesome Pine Bookstore.

Artists appearing at the various venues will include IONA, Sigean, Joseph Sobol, Trae McMaken, Ron Short, Martha Painter, Doug Bischoff, Jack Beck and Wendy Welch, the Powell Valley Middle School Choir, the Union High School French Club and the Irish Skye Dancers.

For a full schedule of events visit http://www.bigstoneceltic.com and http://www.facebook.com/BigStoneCelticDay, or call Jack Beck of the Tales of the Lonesome Pine Bookstore at (276) 523-5097 or email Beck at jbeck69087@aol.com.

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