Loch Badin Celtic Festival slated to return

BADIN — Honoring a traditional celebration that dates back to 11th century Scotland, the fourth-annual Loch Badin Celtic Festival and Highland Games are returning to Stanly County next month.

This year’s festivities are set for May 11 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 107 Spruce Street in Badin.

Since 2018, Better Badin, Inc. has organized a free Celtic festival that has welcomed locals and drawn in visitors wanting to experience a selection of cultural activities, entertainment and vendors.

“Make plans now to join us in Badin on May 11th, and enjoy not only the music of the highlands, but also the games, the Highland cows, vendors offering Celtic merchandise, plus delicious food and drink,” Better Badin said in a promotional advertisement for the event. “It’s a whole jam-packed day of fun! Festival parking at the Alcoa parking lot on Rt. 740.”

Beginning last year, the festival officially entered the traditional Scottish Highland Games circuit by joining the Southeastern Highland Athletic Group (SHAG) and linking up with North American Scottish Games Athletics (NAGSA) to keep track of the results and rankings.

The all-day games offered by the festival — centered around strength, balance, speed and agility — include stone throwing, caber toss, sheaf toss, heavy and light weight throwing for distance, as well as heavy and light weight hammer throwing.

“Better Badin is proud to be partnered with SHAG to facilitate the games,” the non-profit organization announced. “SHAG is first and foremost an athletic organization created for the betterment of heavy athletics through the use of trained, certified judges, and the use of safe, well-maintained equipment. SHAG was founded by and continues to be run by current and former Scottish highland heavy athletes.”

The athletic events hosted by the Badin Celtic Festival aren’t the only highlight of the day.

Festivities also include performances at 10:15 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. from the Highland dancers of the Annadale Center for Scottish Dance. Historically, modern Highland dancing was created from the Gaelic folk dance repertoire and emerged in the 19th and 20th centuries.

During the middle of the day, the festival will host a bagpipe and drum performance from NC State University’s An Gorta Mor Memorial Pipe Band, which will lead into a Military Appreciation Council Parade with the help of the Scottish American Military Society.

Raglan Road — an acoustic Celtic fusion duo consisting of musicians Trip Rogers and Neil Anderson Raglan — is then set to hit the stage at 3 p.m. and will be followed up by a 4 p.m. performance from Celtic folk and Americana band Mountain Muse.

Event attendees can also see the Highland cows brought by the Asheboro-based Cellar Creek Farm or do a shuttle tour of the Narrows Dam, which was built by Alcoa in 1917 as the world’s highest overflow type dam and the largest of any type dam in the state.

Shuttle buses will leave at regular intervals from the Better Badin information tent on Falls Road, from 8 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. Tickets will be $5, with children 10 and under free.