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Music, events mesmerize at Celtic festival

POSTED: July 24, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Sara Guevara/The Times

Daniel Bollinger of Murrayville plays an original composition on the bagpipes as fellow musician Sam Johnson, left, of Dahlonega and the crowd listen Saturday during the Starbridge Celtic Festival in Murrayville.

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MURRAYVILLE — The sound of bagpipes filled the air Saturday afternoon and into the night on a farm near the Lumpkin County line during the inaugural Starbridge Celtic Festival.

This year, founders Donna and Brian Sullivan moved the festival, which previously had been held in downtown Gainesville, to their own land, Starbridge Sanctuary. They also changed the name from the North Georgia Celtic Festival. There were several bands and singers at the festival, including Brian Sullivan’s own band Emerald Rose.

Emerald Rose is known by its Gainesville audience for its First Night performances, but the band also has toured across the U.S. and Ireland. The musicians have played at Oscar parties for the "Lord of the Rings," and their song "Unfinished Business," was used by American Movie Classics in a commercial for the movie "The Graduate." The band performs music that is a blend of traditional and original Celtic folk music.

Another performer, Jim Malcolm, was a headliner for Saturday’s festival. He plays the Celtic guitar and harmonica.

Daniel Bollinger of Murrayville was one of the event’s bagpipe players. He said he has been playing for three years and three months and became interested in Scottish heritage after watching the movie "Braveheart." He called Scottish music "a gift from God."

In addition to the musicians, there were several vendors at the festival selling original items. Kathi Buczkowske of Clarkesville, who works through Cornelia-based Dirt Bag Pottery, makes handmade pottery. She is of Irish heritage and became interested in pottery because of her grandmother, and also by a trip she took to Ireland. Pottery is a "weekend hobby and takes up most of my Saturdays and Sundays," she said.

The festival also featured performances by members of the Society for Creative Anachronism. The group is a nonprofit, worldwide organization for those interested in the history of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Arin Dove of Kennesaw, also known as Cillian Cauldwell, is the chapter president of the Kennesaw/Marietta/Smyrna area branch of The Shire of Owl’s Nest. In addition to dueling, Cauldwell also teaches fencing classes to other members of the group.

He said being a part of the group allows him to "escape from real life and also gives me an excuse to dress up in funny clothes."

The festival also drew visitors from across the region.

Danelle Griffin of Homer said she started tracing her Scottish roots and decided to attend Scottish-themed festivals. She said she has been to four different events, and enjoys looking at the vendors and listening to the music.

Elanie Lee of Dahlonega said she is of Scot-Irish descent and visited the festival to support the local community.

Volunteers also filled the area, with 25 helping out wherever they were needed. "People were beating down the door to volunteer," said Candy Lieblang, volunteer coordinator.


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