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Art & Soul: The Performing Arts - A Local Celtic Festival, Theater, And More

Saline Celtic Festival
Saline Celtic Festival Facebook

On this edition of "Art and Soul," 89.1 WEMU's Lisa Barry and Wendy Wright begin by talking to the entertainment director for the Saline Celtic Festivalabout the upcoming festival.  They also talk about several local theater productions, jazz musical performances, and "Lady Bunny."

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 spend on the Festival.

Festival Weekend


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.



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Big Daddy Shakespeare adapted from Shakespeare by Anna Simmons

Roustabout Theatre Troupe

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Lady Bunny

Necto Nightclub

Fri, Jul 12th, 1st show at 9:45PM | Encore at 12AM

Bunny is a successful comedienne, DJ, actress, singer/songwriter and most famously, the emcee and creator of Wigstock, the outrageous drag festival of drag and music which electrified New Yorkers every Labor Day for over 20 years.


The Blue LLama Jazz Club

Gerard Gibbs & ORGANized Crime

Gibbs conceived the idea to form this group in order to both commemorate the teachings of his mentor, the late Richard “Groove” Holmes, and to fully embrace his love for the Hammond B-3 organ and the electric keyboards..

July 12th – 7PM-10PM

The Ark

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Saturday, July 13th – 8:00 PM

An Americana classic, renewed.

John Paul White

Monday, July 22nd – 8:00 PM

New music from one half of The Civil Wars


German Park Picnic

June 29th – Admission gate open 4-9 pm; Park closes at 11 pm.

5549 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor

For 75 years, the German Park Recreation Club hosts three picnics the last Saturday in June, July, and August with Live Music, Authentic German Food and Beer and Live German Dance Performances

20th Annual Michigan Elvisfest

July 19th & 20th

Riverside Park - Ypsilanti

One of the best sanctioned Elvis ™ events in the country.  Our reputation for spectacular award-winning Elvis Tribute Artists is known throughout the Elvis World.  We have been providing one of the greatest fun-filled, fantastic family events for the last 19 years.

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu

Wendy Wright has been on the radio at WEMU since April 2000. She served as host of 89.1 Jazz, Sunday mornings from 5-8 a.m. for seven years, when she was asked to host From Memphis to Motown. She was then asked to create the Soul Break which airs Wednesday afternoons.
Lisa Barry was a reporter, and host of All Things Considered on 89.1 WEMU.
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