Last weekend, Kew Gardens in Toronto’s Beach neighbourhood, was packed with fans of all things Celtic as founder SANDY GRAHAM presented the 14th annual Beach Celtic Festival. With an exciting vendor village full of Celt-themed treasures and a performance roster of award-winning musical and dance artists, thousands of festival visitors enjoyed 2 days of sunshine and free family fun, celebrating their Scottish, Welsh, Irish and English ancestry and the contributions those early immigrants made to building Toronto into a world class city.Created as a tribute to her late mother, Sandy has built the annual Festival into a local tradition and she has gained support from local businesses and politicians.
The Beach residents are very supportive of this event and I get asked on the street all the time about when it is and what they can expect this year. I think the businesses appreciate that we don’t host a lot of competitive vendors i.e. coffee, food, clothing etc. and that our vendors are strictly Celtic in theme and flavour. I always say that it is a tough rent on Queen Street East and if we can all bring more people into the Beach to spend money and enjoy our little Brigadoon for the weekend then that is all good. Sandy Graham
Here are some of the booths enjoyed by Festival visitors: first up www.duncanscelticstonework.com
..and here’s some beautiful silver and gem jewellery (below) from www.CelticFair.ca Next up, how about some deelish infused jams & honey from The Art of Nova Scotia I found some lovely fragrant incense sticks (Dragon’s Blood…oh my!) from the Karmic Crystals & Sunshine Glass ladies. I also spied some cute fairies, too! Sprucewood Shortbreads were also there (below), selling their yummy cookies www.sprucewoodcookies.com And for those with a bigger appetite, the All Smoked Up BBQ truck was on hand to satisfy everyone’s hunger pangs!Sandy and the Festival team presented an exciting silent auction to help raise funds to cover the costs of producing the Festival…look at all the cool stuff on offer this year (below). Jays’ fans had the opportunity to bid on a personally autographed photo from team legend Kelly Gruber!This year, Sandy welcomed new vendor Jeannie B and her stunning photographic chalkboards. Great ideas for Christmas, birthday or new home gifts! www.jeannieb.com …and also Laura from Designs by Nature Gems who brought some stunning handcrafted jewellery to her booth. www.designsbynaturegems.com You could learn Gaelic and the history of the language around the world from the www.gaelicsocietytoronto.com…and you could also learn about the history of Cornwall, mainland England’s farthest western county (below) from the www.torontocornishassociation.orgAnother newbie to the Festival this year was Olga from www.SaltnMustard.com who brought her handcrafted infused salts and artisinal mustards (oh, yummm!) For those who got a little chilly later in the day, there were warm blankets, jackets and shawls available, too…. …and for those wanting a little bit o’ home in their Toronto home…lots of beautiful watercolours and printsI really did want to take a peek…but the lads from Men in Kilts must have heard and headed for the trees…LOL!The folks from Simply British Foods brought boxes of potato crisps for hungry nibblers…. …and if you wanted to show your allegiance to the Celts, you could pick up all sorts of fun custom pins from Press My Button (below)Here are the bonny lasses from the Bold Step Dancers, under the direction of Meghan Bold, who got the crowds up on their own feet. (you can follow them on Facebook.com/Bold-Step-Dance-Studio-Scottish-Highland-and-Canadian-Step-Dancing )These charming youngsters (below) from the Butler-Fearon-O’Connor School of Irish Dance provided some great traditional dance entertainment.
And here’s the team that helped present this fun family event – Founder and producer extraordinaire Sandy (2nd from left) and her musician brother Don (3rd from left) are joined by some of the generous volunteers for a photo opp with Snapd Beach/Danforth newspaper.Musical performers included Don Graham, Lisa Hartt, Syd Simkins, Caledon County, Erin’s Malore and Old Man Flanagan’s Ghost whose founder, Stephen Lamb, was presented with the 2017 “Celt of the Year” award for his support and contributions to the Celtic community in Toronto.
So mark your calendars for the weekend after Labour Day next year when the Beach Celtic Festival marks it’s 15th anniversary – it’s sure to be one big happy ceilidh! www.thecelticfestival.com