Story by Chris Servais, Photo by Brent Linton

This year will mark the Canadian Celtic Celebration’s 15th annual concert here in Thunder Bay, with a traditional Ceilidh dance on June 24 followed by an exciting Celtic concert on June 25. The performances will highlight music and dance from Cape Breton, Ireland, Scotland, Quebec, Ontario, and more. Show organizers Pierre Schryer and Merrie Klazek started the annual tradition in 1999 as a series of one-off shows in the northern Ontario region. In 2012, they decided instead to focus the event over a single weekend festival in Thunder Bay.

A major part of the Celebration’s appeal is its ability to pull together performers from a number of styles and regions. “I wanted the CCC to showcase the authentic natural roots of this amazing tradition,” says Schryer. “There are many highly produced Celtic shows that tour around, but this idea of presenting new collaborations of top artists as a one-time event is completely unique.” He notes that the festival is not just a great place for the audience to get its Celtic fixthe performers also rave about the opportunity to enjoy jam sessions with contemporaries from far and away. The visiting musicians are joined by several local talents, including Schryer and Klazek themselves on fiddle and trumpet.

The Ceilidh dance component of the weekend is an all-ages event in which dance veterans and newcomers alike will get to experience the nuances of several traditional Celtic dances for themselves. Participants receive instruction on the various dance steps, before getting a chance to test their chops on the dance floor. The lighthearted event is tonnes of fun, and is also open to those who simply wish to spectate.

Schryer attributes the show’s long-term success to the vitality of Thunder Bay’s musical culture. “It’s the people of Thunder Bay,” he says, “that give us the energy and inspiration to create this event and to continue.” Be sure to come out for a weekend of high-energy arrangements and toe-tapping good fun!

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Irish Sessions from The Walleye Magazine on Vimeo.