About the Festival
In 1966, the City of Saline, Michigan entered into a Sister City relationship with the city of Brecon, Wales. Far from being a nominal relationship simply entitling the cities to post signs at the edge of town, much spirited interaction has taken place over the years: mayor and council visits, school writing projects, countless newspaper articles. The residents of the City of Saline have always had an interest in culture and arts, and this interest has been well-fed by the relationship with Brecon.
Beginning in 1996, as part of the celebration of thirty years as the Sister City of Brecon, Wales, the City of Saline created the Saline Celtic Festival. An enormous (and unexpected) amount of interest in repeating the festival in subsequent years caused it to blossom and grow into a significant event in the world of culture and music education, performances and exhibitions, as well as a well-recognized destination for those interested in other cultural aspects such as dance, theater, storytelling, and sporting events.
Each year more than 350 local volunteers contribute hundreds of hours over the course of a year planning and implementing the festival (see below). There is no paid administrative staff and no city tax dollars are spent on the Festival.
It all starts at 6:00 pm on Friday offering Celtic music on the main stage and more than a dozen (free to the public) workshops that provide lessons in traditional folk dance, sword play and acrobatics, athletics, traditional musical instruments and historic living.
On Saturday the Festival kicks off with nearly 100 pipers parading through the Festival grounds to the opening ceremony hosted by the mayor of Saline who welcomes an average of 3,500 attendees to enjoy: Celtic music and dance performances and instruction on multiple stages; competitors from as away as Australia who compete in the International Jousting Match; athletes from all over the country vying for champion status in Highland Athletics; youth dancers travelling from all across North America to compete in the Highland Dance Competition; Wee Folks Island where children 3-12 years old can do various Celtic crafts, hear story tellers, and participate in games such as bean bag haggis toss and archery; visit Millie the Mill Pond Monster; check out Celtic K9 breeds; watching the weavers creating various tartans and weaves including the Millie the Mill Pond Monster Tartan, designed by our own Mary Underwood; exhibitions in sword play, historic encampments; and acrobatics; to partake in the foods and wares being offered by various artisans; and to enjoy the shade.
Friends of the Festival
The City of Saline managed the Saline Celtic Festival beginning in 1996, handling all finances and appointing a volunteer oversight committee to plan & present the Festival.
On April 26, 2011, a new nonprofit corporation was incorporated in the State of Michigan as Friends of the Festival. Friends of the Festival was recognized by the IRS as an organization described in Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) in 2013. The organization was formed by volunteers.
Friends of the Festival oversees all financial management of funds, secures and manages grant funding, enters into contract on behalf of the Michigan DBAs "Saline Celtic Festival" and "Saline Craft Beer Festival", secures and recognizes sponsors and other contributors, secures insurance and licensing for the Festival and establishes policy and protocol for a safe and engaging event.
Friends of the Festival assumes all financial liability for the Festival. Friends of the Festival has been operating with an asset surplus since its inception.
In January of 2023, The Saline Celtic Festival and the City of Saline officially parted ways, and the Executive Committee was dissolved. The Friends of the Festival took over as the official ruling body of the Saline Celtic Festival as a whole.
The Saline Celtic Festival is a member of the Association of Irish & Celtic Festivals and the Michigan Festivals & Events Association.