KVMR’s 19th annual Celtic Festival offers diverse lineup of musicians, pageantry and family fun | TheUnion.com

KVMR’s 19th annual Celtic Festival offers diverse lineup of musicians, pageantry and family fun

Irish musician Sharon Shannon became the youngest winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award at this year's Meteor Awards.
Courtesy The Picture Rooms Studio |

Know & Go

Who: Community Radio KVMR 89.5 FM

What: 19th Annual KVMR Celtic Festival

When: 4 to 7 p.m. Free Youth Arts Program; 7:30 to 11 p.m. – Ceilidh Dance Friday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday

Where: Nevada County Fairgrounds, 11228 McCourtney Rd, Grass Valley

Tickets: http://www.kvmrcelticfestival.org

A full weekend lineup of diverse music, pageantry and games in store at Celtic Fest.

This weekend, Celtic musicians from all over the world will converge on eight stages and performance areas at the Nevada County Fairgrounds for KVMR Radio’s biggest fundraiser of the year, the 19th Annual Celtic Festival.

It’s an event that draws loyal fans – both locals and visitors – year after year for a weekend of authentic music, pageantry and games in what many deem to be the last California festival of the season.

“I think this is a long-standing success because people don’t get to experience this kind of an event very often. There are many festivals. There aren’t many Celtic festivals,” said organizer John Taber.

The festival launches this Friday, Oct. 2 with a free Youth Arts Program and popular Ceilidh Dance, and continues through Saturday, Oct. 3 and Sunday, Oct. 4.

Headliners include: Galician piper Carlos Nuñez, Irish squeeze box master Sharon Shannon, Irish sister quartet Screaming Orphans, Boston fiddler Hanneke Cassel, Irish singer/ songwriters Cassie & Maggie MacDonald, Celtic rockers Dàimh, California duo Paul Kamm & Eleanore MacDonald, Sacramento’s own One Eyed Reilly and many more.

Gráinne Diver is delighted to be invited back to perform for a second year in a row. Diver and her three sisters are members of the band, The Screaming Orphans.

“We had heard all about how great the festival was from a lot of other bands. It’s one of those festivals that becomes a favorite very quickly and is a highlight on the Celtic Music circuit,” Diver said.

From Bundoran in County Donegal, Ireland, The Screaming Orphans play a mix of old and new – songs with a strong focus on melody with pop and rocks strains.

“We sing the old songs that our mother sang, some original songs which we refer to as ‘new Irish songs’ and the rest are well-known Irish songs and tunes that we have changed up a bit. It all makes for a great dynamic live show, Diver said.

Diver says the KVMR Celtic Festival stands out because of the diverse lineup.

“They have a great balance of traditional/ folk and bands with a modern edge. Every year they introduce new and varied artists of all different musical genres and it’s a real learning experience for the attendees,” said Diver.

Carlos Núñez is the world’s most famous player of the gaita, the bagpipes of Galicia. He has toured and recorded several times with the Chieftains.

Sharon Shannon has entertained President Bill Clinton and recorded and toured with: Bono, Sinead O’Connor, Jackson Browne, Steve Earle, Mark Knopfler, The Chieftains, Willie Nelson, Alison Krauss and Shane MacGowan.

Festival-goers are encouraged to bring their own instruments and participate in numerous jam sessions and workshops scheduled all weekend long. Designed for the whole family, the festival features several encampments or “Guilds” where points and places in time are recreated. Live falcons, eagles, hawks, owls, sheep and ponies can be found at the Celtic animal exhibit. Amateur and professional athletes will test their strength and skill in Scottish games while children can engage in arts and crafts and storytelling.

While visitors come year after year to camp out at the fairgrounds, upwards of 65 percent of ticket sales go for day use, much of that coming from a strong local following. For some, KVMR’s Celtic Festival is said to be “better than Christmas.”

“The community support is spectacular,” Taber said. “People tell me over and over that it is a very special place and they return every year.”

Contact freelance writer Laura Petersen at laurapetersen310@gmail.com or 530-913-3067.

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