Swordplay, jousting, living history, and more will be on tap at the Saline Celtic Festival
Saline’s Mill Pond Park will feel like a time machine on July 9, when living history enactments will be among the many attractions of the July 9 Saline Celtic Festival.
The Society for Creative Anachronism, Ann Arbor Sword Club, Celtic Alliance, Ring of Steel, 42nd Royal Highland regiment, and jousting contests led by Andre Renier, “The Chevalier of Chivalry,” will thrill festival-goers.
“The Saline Celtic Festival is a unique event—bagpipes playing, banners snapping, flying hay bales, and dancers performing make you feel, for a little while, like you’ve entered a different time,” says Society for Creative Anachronism leader Art Sinclair. “This is precisely the type of atmosphere people in the Society for Creative Anachronism love, and work to create at our own events. The Saline Celtic Festival is a great opportunity to enjoy a day of showing the public all the fun stuff we do—fighting in armor, fencing, dressing in different clothes, calligraphy, cooking, weaving, and hanging out with our friends who like all that too.
“We’re always looking to meet new people who are like-minded history buffs—or who just think the armor is cool,” he adds. “Several of our current members found us at the SCF, a staple event of our group’s summer. We’re so happy to be returning to such a fun event this year, even if we can’t stop hearing bagpipes for a least a full day afterward.”
The Ann Arbor Sword Club will offer fencing lessons —“With due consideration for youth—we get parents’ permission,” says fencing instructor David Hoornstra, a founding member of the club along with veteran fencer Terry Gruber. “Our pavilion includes a huge display of swords, modern and historical, some for use in fencing and some just pretty examples of period weapons, always including Scottish traditional weaponry. We draw, entertain and educate crowds at every festival.”
The Celtic Alliance, a group that made its first appearance at the Saline Celtic Festival in 2019, returns this year. When not doing Celtic reenactment, the group does reenactments as the Harrow Vikings.
“We’re excited to bring our knowledge of history and share it with festival guests,” says organizer Treasa Kloth, a MacKinnon descendant and an author. “Many of us have Scottish and Irish roots and love Celtic history. We’ve represented the MacKinnons, Maynards, Davidsons, O’Conners, Burkes, and more.”
“As far as we know, we’re the only full contact live steel Celtic combat team in the country," she adds. “When our fighters—Brethren of the Blades—go into the ring, they are not pulling their hits, nor are their fights rehearsed, they are truly fighting to win and are trained professional fighters.
“We have combat fighters, crafters, and people who just love reenacting and history—some people have a decade or more of reenactment history, others are just getting started. The one thing we have in common, is that we all love history and sharing our passion with the public.”
The Festival also features music from The Moxie Strings, Crossbow, Brother Crowe, Nessa, and Saline Fiddlers a Highland dance competition, music and dance performances, ancient athletics, free music/dance workshops, Wee Folks Island, sheep herding, clans, textile demonstrations, beer tent, food vendors, merchants—and “Millie the Mill Pond Monster.”
Saturday, July 9, 11 a.m. to midnight, at Mill Pond Park
Adult tickets $15/advance; $18 at the gate; ages 65+ $8/advance; $10/at the gate; ages 6-17 $5; age 5 and under free; active military free. Group packages available
Volunteers get a free pass and a chance to win a $50 gift card! Sign up here.
Free parking and shuttles
The Festival will also host a “Dance Party in the Park,” 6 p.m. to midnight, Friday, July 8, at Mill Pond Park, with music from Ironwood, The Codgers, and The Phoenix Theory. $8 at the gate; ages 6-17 $5; age 5 and under, and active military free.