Kilt up! June 10th, 2017, will see the return of the Kilt O' the Falls Celtic Festival. Last year's inaugural festival saw success with over 800 attendees and $500 raised for the Scottish Rite Language Program. This year's festival at Giant Springs Heritage Park hopes to surpass those numbers by welcoming faces new and old. Among the new are musical guests Montana Shamrockers, Queen Mab, and Joe Ryan. Thorns Among Roses will be returning to play again this year.
Also returning is the Montana Scottish American Athletic Association (MSAAA), with co-founder Garrett Middleton once again running the Highland Games. Like last year's Black Sheep games, all are welcome to register and learn, but this year's events are Sanctioned, meaning members of the MSAAA will have their scores count toward their national ranking. Middleton himself will be competing in the Lightweight National Championships this year, where the top three contestants will be invited to the 2017 World Highland Game Championships where last year, he placed third.
Middleton won't be the only one returning who has traveled out of country for his Scottish craft. Jesse Callender, founder of the Montana Pipers Society, has competed in the USA, Canada, and Scotland. The Grade 1 piper passes on his piping knowledge every Thursday at the Scottish Rite Language Center and founded the Montana Bagpipers Society, which returns this year to run the bagpipe competition at the Kilt O' the Falls Festival.
There will be two goodbyes this year, as the Honored Clan, Clan Gregor, sees the retirement of Clan Representatives Gus and Janet Gustuson. The Gustusons have spent years sharing the history of the clan, from Rob Roy to the brutal history behind the long list of surnames Gregors hid behind. They pass the reins to Tim and Pamella Stoddard, adding two more to the list of Great Falls natives that will be in attendance representing their clans, which will include Davidson, Campbell, MacKenzie, Cian, Gordon, and Henderson.
So whether you're old or new, come out and watch the cabers fly while the bagpipes call from 9-5:30. Admission is $5, but bring a little extra for vendors of food, drink, and souvenirs. Parking is available on the right side of the street and in the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center, where the Great Falls Historic Trolley will be waiting to ferry attendees to the site. The years event is made possible by donations from Great Falls Tourism Board, Lithia Great Falls, Napa, Cherry Creek Radio, Pepsi Great Falls, Super 1, and City Brew, but it won't be a success without you.