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Pipes are calling at Celtic Festival

It's a day of traditional music, dancing, storytelling and food. Admission is free.


© St. Petersburg Times, published February 16, 2001

ZEPHYRHILLS -- Put on your kilts, knee-high stockings and bring your bagpipes to a celebration of the culture and traditions of Scotland and Ireland this Saturday in Zephyrhills.

A Celtic Festival is planned from noon to 6 p.m. at Zephyr Park, on State Road 54.

However, if you have none of the trappings of the Celtic lifestyle, just a curiosity and hunger for an educational experience will be enough to have some fun.

An afternoon of traditional music, dancing, storytelling and food are planned for those who attend this free event.

Celtic culture stems from the Irish, Welsh and Highland Scots and has been passed on by generations of proud people since the fourth and fifth centuries B.C.

Much of the Celtic culture is steeped in superstitions, hence the references to fairies and leprechauns.

Steve Serneels, a pipe major with the Tampa Bay Pipes and Drums, decided the Zephyrhills community would be a good place to have this type of celebration.

"I've been performing (with bagpipes) since I was a kid," said the Zephyrhills resident, who claims to be a mix of Irish and Scottish.

After discussing his plan with Cliff McDuffie, executive director of the Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce, he went ahead full force planning the event.

Storytellers and singers will be carrying on the oral tradition of the Celtic heritage. Little has been written so history has been passed on by generations of storytellers.

A small parade around the park and ending at the main stage will kick off the celebration. Throughout the afternoon entertainers will perform on the main stage and inside Alice Hall.

Dancers and singers will be in costume as they celebrate the Celtic tradition with step dancing (Riverdance type of dancing) and Irish Ceili dancing. Jigs and reels are all part of the heritage. The Titanic dancers will be featured.

Musical performances by Gerry Forde, the Pooke Irish Band and the Tampa Bay Pipes and Drums are planned. String, wind and free reed melody instruments consisting of the fiddle, whistle, flute, pipes, concertina and accordion are part of the Irish and Scottish music tradition.

"Gerry Forde plays the accordion, spoons and the Bodhan, an Irish drum," said Serneels.

Demonstrations by Alex Cameron on the use of ancient weapons including axes, mace (a heavy war club with a sharp spiked metal head), and the claymore, a two-edged broadsword.

"The claymore is the sword they used for bashing each other in Braveheart," said Serneels.

Ancient writings claim the Celts as fierce warriors, often fighting naked with their bodies painted blue.

Vendors will be selling crafts, jewelry, clothing and food.

Food such as Scotch egg (hard boiled egg covered with meat and fried), haggis (sheep organs cooked in a sausage casing), and fish and chips and fried Mars bars will be sold. Irish tea, soda and water as well as ice cream are on the menu.

- Michelle Jones covers central Pasco community news. She can be reached at (813) 226-3459. Her e-mail address is

If you go

WHAT: Zephyrhills Celtic Festival

WHERE: Zephyr Park on State Road 54 in Zephyrhills.

WHEN: Noon to 6 p.m. Saturday.

COST: Admission is free.

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