Wear your kilt; wear your pants; wear something green. No matter how you dress, follow the sound of the bagpipes to Kilt Fest, a unique, medieval Celtic Festival and Highland Games taking place at Liberty Lake Park in Bordentown this weekend.
Kilt Fest, which is held by the American Highlander and The New Jersey Renaissance Faire, features music, sports, food, drink and culture of the seven Celtic nations: Scotland; Ireland; Wales; Brittany; The Isle of Mann; Cornwall; and Gallicia.
“We wanted people to be able to celebrate their Celtic heritage and that is why we started Kilt Fest,” said organizer Chris Beyer, who owns the American Highlander Kilt Shop in Ewing. “America is sometimes called the eighth Celtic Nation because so many Irish, Scottish and Welsh helped found this country and many of their ancestors still live in this area.
“Kilt Fest at Liberty Lake is like the play, Brigadoon, where a mythical village from the Scottish Highlands appears only one day every 100 years. We are bringing that village to central New Jersey. But just like Brigadoon, it only lasts for a short time, in this case one weekend in October, and then it disappears,” Breyer said.
Kilt Fest includes the Scottish strength and skill competition called the Highland Games, a two-mile kilted fun run, kilt contests, whisky tasting, beer and cider, live bands, Celtic vendors, Irish dancing, food trucks, axe throwing, sword fighting, kids activities including a children’s highland games and more.
The event will take place on Saturday, Oct. 5, from 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 6, from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
One of the main draws at Kilt Fest will be the Highland Games. One of the athletes, Al Yodakis, who was a track and field athlete at Lehigh University, explained what the games are and how he got started competing in them.
“It’s all Scottish strongman events,” Yodakis said. “It’s how Scots would find the strongest men in their clan before they went out to battle. I went to a games and saw guys in kilts throwing heavy things and then having a beer afterwards and said this is my version of heaven. I’ve been doing it ever since.”
In the past, only male warriors competed in the Scottish Highland Games. Today, at Kilt Fest and all over the world, men and women take part in all of the Highland Games events. Kids are also welcome to participate in the separate children’s highland games. Athletes will be on hand to provide instruction in various events specially designed for the wee ones.
Attendees of Kilt Fest will be able to try Haggis, a Scottish delicacy that is kind of like scrapple and is hard to find in the United States. It is being prepared by Celtic Knot Fish n’ Chips, the food truck run by Cameron’s Scottish Foods from Brick, one of the largest suppliers of Scottish fare in America. Other food vendors will be selling corned beef and cabbage, fish n’ chips and other Celtic fare.
On Oct. 6 at 10 a.m., kilt clad runners will be competing in the annual two-mile kilted fun run. Some will run for time and some will walk slowly, a few with beer in hand. Trophies and prizes will be awarded, but not necessarily to the fastest runners.
Some of the best bands in the area will be performing live. Na’Bodach who regularly play at area pubs including The Dubliner on the Delaware, Chaste Treasure, The Kennedys, Paul Adams, Nothing Sacred, bagpipers, drummers and more will all be taking the stage at Kilt Fest this October.