Now for a follow up to the Ft. Lee Celtic Festival. First some comments from our Pipe Major who also happened to help organize the event. Those will then be followed by my own take on the event. First a word from Tim:
With only less than two months of planning and a small budget, Ft. Lee Celtic Festival was a very nice success. We reached in the hat and pulled out a very big rabbit. Uisce Beatha , Poison Dwarf , Coyote Run, along with the Ft Lee Rock Band filling the stage throughout the day, folks had plenty of great entertainment. The combined Pipes & Drums of City of Alexandria, Greater Richmond, St. Andrews Legion took the parade field with Ft. Lee’s own 392nd Army Band for two massings, and each band rendered sets during stage breaks.
Nothing against competition piping, but paying bands to come into an event like this, with the sole focus to entertain and show the crowds what they can do is a very nice breath of fresh air. I dare say with all due respect, if we were all judged on what the crowds love and cheer, City of Alexandria P&D would cream the rest of us. Drum Major JJ Powers and PM J. Sprague have done a spectacular job of preserving the idea and image of what a Scottish Regimental Pipes & Drums used to look and sound like long before the more civilian model of pipe bands came into common place. Though of course their band does compete in grading, they excel in the show and exhibition side. Then of course, on the other end of the piping spectrum, we had the intensely focused Greater Richmond Pipes & Drums who have risen to in grading in the Competition World. As for my own band, St. Andrew’s Legion, they did a good job and for many in the ranks, it was just the first or second time playing in public. It’s always a pleasure seeing the excitement in the new member’s eyes and to hear their enthusiasm when they’ve made their first gig.
Mother Nature gave us a soft Scottish day with an overcast of clouds, but the rain stayed away, though the weather conditions did make it a challenge for tuning pipes. Clans, Societies and Vendors filled the hillside of the Hideaway Club. As one of the coordinators for the festival, I was very pleased with the response from the public and the participants. Some very nice suggestions were made by some that seemed to have fallen in love with the event. The soldiers and their families were thrilled that so many from the public came on Post to show their love and support. We all support the troops, what American doesn’t? It adds so much more when you can be there in person to show and tell them. We’re planning on continuing the festival annually, and once we decide next year’s date, we will let everyone know. Dan & Megan are excited and this event can only keep growing.
Thanks Tim. I do think this event showed a lot of potential and agree with Tim that the weather probably kept some people away. Entertainment was top notch with The Ft. Lee Rock Band, Uisce Beatha, Coyote Run, and Poisoned Dwarf. It was REALLY nice to have the Army folks put the tent up for us. We always put some piece in wrong and realize it half way through. Hopefully we remedied that at take down by re painting the connections. I have to admit some of the “rules” had me worried but everything was fine. The two biggies being no bladed weapons and you couldn’t bring food. Everyone in SALPD didn’t wear any weapons but looks like everyone in Alexandria had either a dirk, sgian dubh or both. They even had a vendor selling swords. Who needed to bring food when the Army supplied the bands with lunch and the prices, both beer and food, at this festival were very reasonable. This festival was very laid back from a performance perspective so we had time to check out the other bands and I have to agree with Tim about Alexandria. Not that Greater Richmond was worse, their sound is absolutely amazing, but Alexandria really puts on a show. The guys from both bands are great guys to hang with as well. I was stopped a couple of time for picture opportunities (not that I’m complaining but there are way more photogenic people to choose from) and I had a chance to chat with some of the people from the base who were more than pleased with the festival. To which I replied thank you we couldn’t do any of this without you guys. I think that’s what made this event special. Our mission is to help spread/preserve Scottish Culture but when we can do that and give back to the community that’s when it becomes really special. Yes we perform at the Virginia War Memorial and other ceremonial type events but being able to play for the men and women of the armed forces in their down time just to help entertain them is really special. Hopefully this event will grow and get better. It is definitely on worth attending.