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The Sterling Swordplayers at Radford Highlanders Festival Photo by: Facebook

Appalachia’s Celtic heritage celebrated with games, food and music

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The Sterling Swordplayers at Radford Highlanders Festival Photo by: Facebook

Don your best tartan and make your way through the thistle for the 18th annual Radford Highlanders Festival, a daylong celebration of the Appalachia’s Celtic heritage.

Held on the campus of Radford University, the 18th Radford Highlander’s Festival will draw more than 8,000 people to play heavyweight games like the caber toss, taste Scottish dishes like haggis, watch sheep herding demonstrations and enjoy music that reflects the traditional tunes that Scots-Irish immigrants brought to the bonnie hills of Appalachia.

Celtic rockers Enter The Haggis will headline this year’s musical program with their rambunctious take on traditional folk styles. Also performing on the main stage is violinist and flautist Arvel Bird of Clan Kennedy, known around the world for his dramatic Celtic fusion music.

The festival will feature performances by three pipe and drum bands: Virginia Highlands Pipes and Drums, Appalachian Highlanders Pipes and Drums and Warpipe.

All are welcome to the Radford University campus and the day will be a proper céilidh, beginning with a grand entry to the festival grounds by the pipe bands and clans, followed by the Raisback Memorial Scottish Heavyweight Games, the gathering of the clans and Border Collie herding demonstrations. Admission to the festival is free and children can enjoy activities offered in the Wee Highlander Village, and more than 70 craft and food vendors will be on hand.

Radford is within driving distance of Richmond (three hours), Charlotte, N.C., (two hours) and Roanoke (40 minutes). The city and the university are 10 minutes from Exit 109 off Interstate 81.

Visitors to the Highlanders Festival may also enjoy nearby attractions in Virginia’s storied Blue Ridge Mountains: Glencoe Museum, the New River, Claytor Lake State Park, the Huckleberry and Appalachian trails and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Radford University is a student-focused, comprehensive public university in Southwest Virginia. Serving more than 9,500 students, RU features a strong service orientation on a beautiful 191-acre American classical campus. The university offers 69 degree programs at the undergraduate level, and 21 master's programs and three doctoral programs at the graduate level. A Division I member of the NCAA and Big South Athletic Conference, Radford participates in 19 varsity sports—11 for women and eight for men. The university is nationally recognized for its commitment to responsible stewardship of economic, social and environmental resources.

The Festival will take place on on Saturday, October 12.

Learn more about the festival and other attractions at www.radford.edu/festival. On Facebook, search for “Radford Highlanders Festival.”

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