The streets of Dandridge resonated with the shrill notes of bagpipes Saturday at the annual Scots-Irish Festival in Dandridge. Main Street vendors sold crafts depicting Celtic culture and traditions. Some vendors spoke in Irish brogues while speaking of the rich heritage of the Emerald Isle. Attendees had an opportunity to taste Irish soft drinks such as Irn Bru and sample Scots-Irish cuisine: haggis, meat pies and fish and chips.
Utilizing computer data bases, vendors assisted attendees in researching their family histories to discovery the meaning of their names and the family’s origins. Shoppers purchased leather goods, Celtic jewelry and family coat of arms.
At noon more than 100 bagpipers and drummers marched in formation wearing their kilts and playing traditional Scots-Irish melodies. The procession marched along Main Street before disbanding at the Douglas Lake dike.
Child dance companies performed traditional dances from Scotland and Ireland for enthusiastic crowds. They were followed by the Knoxville Bag and Drums Marching Band performing traditional tunes. The Revolutionary Cemetery was the scene for the Loch Norman Pipe group who entertained attendees.
Clans of Irish families, such as the St. Andrew’s Society, set up booths to educate attendees about their Irish heritage and recruit members into their civic organizations dedicated to preserving Celtic heritage.
Roger Kelley displayed a table with dozens of replicas of uniforms from our nation’s wars, including both original Confederate and Union uniforms. The uniforms represent the role the Scots and the Irish played in defending the nation.
“During the Civil War when the Irish got off the ship at Ellis Island the first thing they saw was a recruiting station for the U.S. Army,” said Kelley. “They were promised $12 a month, three meals a day, a place to stay and new uniforms. Many signed up without hesitation. Many were escaping hardship and Ireland and stepped right into a war. The Scots and Irish both played a major role in defending this country throughout history.”