Saline Celtic Festival Plans 'Strawhenge'
(Press release from the Saline Celtic Festival)
Jim Peters loves cryptozoology and recreating mysterious creatures; and building iconic structures.
The Saline resident and retired engineering designer, built the world-famous Millie the Mill Pond Monster and her family, mechanical wonders based on Scotland’s famed Loch Ness monster, and that thrilled festivalgoers for 25 years at the Saline Celtic Festival.
A few years ago Peters and his buddies built a mysterious crop circle in a local wheat field.
This year, he is turning his talents to recreating the enigmatic Stonehenge, one of the most recognizable structures in the world and a focal point of Salisbury Plain, in the southwestern part of England.
Henges were ring-shaped Neolithic structures that may have been used by ancient peoples for rituals or astronomical observation.
The Saline Celtic Festival ‘henge’ will be built of straw—and feature at least one ‘Druid,’ Saline’s version of the Druids who held ceremonies at the original Stonehenge.
“I’ve had this idea for a few years now, but Mill Pond Park—our site for a quarter century—was too small and we had to return the park to its natural state the next day—too fast of a turnaround,” Peters says. “But now we’re moving the Festival to the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds, we have time and space to do Strawhenge.
“With much help from local farmers we’ll construct a half-scale representation of Stonehenge, in its present ruined state, with interpretive signage and a guide. Our Strawhenge will be properly aligned per the winter and summer solstice, as in Britain. However, the alignment is for Britain, not Michigan, and the summer solstice on June 21 will have been over by festival time. Also a heel stone is required for proper alignment and we do not have space for that; it would be hundreds of feet away. The standing stones we all know as Stonehenge are only a very small part of the total monument.”
Construction is planned to begin on or about June 15, weather and farmer schedules permitting, at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds. The structure will involve about12 tons of straw and require heavy farm machines to lift and arrange into place the super rectangular straw bales weighing up to 1,000 pounds.
“The original prehistoric engineers of Stonehenge were brilliant and were using geometry long before the Greeks,” Peters says. “There are many theories but no one knows for certain who built Stonehenge or why, and it was added on to and used by many different cultures over the centuries. But we do know the Celts used it for religious ceremonies.
“It’s also the site of an important pseudo-historical Celtic event—known as "Treason of the Long Knives,” an account of a 5th century massacre of British Celtic chieftains by Anglo-Saxon soldiers at a peace conference at Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain.
“We’re absolutely thrilled to build Strawhenge, and provide festivalgoers with such an exciting and unique experience, in addition to our Celtic bands, music and dance, Highland Games, jousting, pipe and drum bands, Wee Folks activities, and so much more. Even Millie the Mill Pond Monster will be there, although without the Saline River, she’s in dry dock, so to speak—but festivalgoers will still be able to view and admire her.”
FAST FESTIVAL FACTS
- New location: Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds, 5055 Ann Arbor-Saline Rd.
- Friday July 7: 5 p.m.-midnight: adults $8, ages 6-17 $5, at the gate.
- Saturday, July 8: 10 a.m.-midnight: $15 advance (advance sales end June 30), $18 at gate; ages 65+ $8 advance, $10 at gate; ages 6-17 $5; free age 5 and under, and active military; group packages available. Ample free parking.
- Visit salineceltic.org and also Facebook.
- To volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org.