For the past 13 years, Millie the Mill Pond Monster has entertained crowds at the Saline Celtic Festival, rising from the depths of the Saline River and snorting smoke at delighted festivalgoers. She is set to reappear at this year’s event, July 13 and 14 at Mill Pond Park.
Millie was ‘born’ in 2002, when Saline resident Jim Peters, a mechanical designer, sketched out ideas on a bar napkin in the festival’s Pub Tent. Encouraged by then-Festival Chairman Patrick Little, Peters went on to construct a mechanical monster, 28 feet long and 7 feet high, at his Saline home.
With her first appearance at the Festival in 2003, Millie became a celebrity, drawing visitors from far and wide every year.
Peters later created a teenage monster, Patrick, and a baby monster, Moira; and a smoke machine enabled Millie to shoot smoke out her nose. Over the years, a Scottish castle was built on the far riverbank, and a Viking ship on the Mill Pond.
According to Peters (possibly with his tongue firmly in his cheek) Millie and her offspring make the long journey to Saline each summer from Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. Millie’s significant other, “Angus,” has never accompanied them, opting instead to stay in Scotland.
“However, word of a Viking dragon ship hanging around Millie and the young ones in the Saline River has reached Angus back home,” Peters says with a smile. “Being of Scottish descent, he knows all too well about the wrath of the Norsemen. So this year he’s decided to make the trip with the family in case the Vikings are up to no good. There’s never been any trouble with pesky Vikings in the past, but just to make sure, Angus will make an appearance at the festival.”
The transatlantic swim, Peters adds, will take the monsters about two weeks, at roughly 10 knots per hour. In past trips, they’ve encountered a Russian submarine, humpback whales and storms. “They’re looking forward to seeing all their friends at the Celtic Festival,” Peters says.
A team of volunteers helps Peters with river installation and extraction, operating the 250-pound prop for the 10-hour shift, and entertaining visitors with Celtic stories and explanations of the mechanics behind Millie and her family.
Millie’s image can be downloaded at salineceltic.org for kids to color and cut out, take photos for social media and the website; and get a treat when they bring colored-in “Flat Millies” to the festival’s Wee Folks Island.
Friday, July 13: CrossBow and Brother Crowe will perform at Pub Night in Mill Pond Park that also features Ring of Steel; Limerick Contest; Mr. Pretty Legs competition; and workshops. Gates open at 5:30 p.m., and fun runs to 11:30 p.m. Admission $5, under 13 free.
Saturday, July 14: Gates open10 a.m., opening ceremonies 11 a.m.
Saturday’s headliners include Corktown Popes, Steel City Rovers, Brother Crowe, CrossBow, Finvarra’s Wren, Peat in the Creel, Roane, and Saline Fiddlers, and many more.
Jousting, historical reenactments, Highland dance competitions, Millie the Mill Pond Monster, Wee Folks Island, The Kilted Magician, sheep herding, Highland Athletics, pipe bands, textile arts, merchant village, and a Craft Beer Festival
Tickets at the gate: $15/adults; $10/ages 65 and up; $5/ages 13-17; free/ages 12 and under, and active military. Advance tickets at salineceltic.org: $10/ adults; group of 10/$80. Pre-event tickets $10 at Saline City Hall week of the festival.
Free parking with shuttles.
No pets allowed.