The 32nd annual Celtic Classic was held on Friday, Sept. 27, 2019 on Main Street. The fundraiser is dedicated to promoting the Celtic tradition through different music and dance, vendors, food and apparel inspired by the culture. (Maggie Goldberg/B&W Staff)

Celtic Classic celebrates heritage for the 32nd year


Celtic Classic—the three-day signature event of the Celtic Cultural Alliance—was held for the 32nd year from Sept. 27-29, in Bethlehem.

The Alliance’s mission is to promote the Celtic heritage through music, food, games and activities. 

The festival, which was held on the North Side near the Colonial Industrial Quarter, has changed throughout its 32-year history. Marcie Mulligan, the cultural outreach coordinator of the Celtic Classic, said the alliance tried to promote Irish culture more this year. Mulligan said the goal for the festival was to inspire the next generation and to instill curiosity about people’s heritages. 

“We have really tried to make the festival for the next generation,” Mulligan said. “We want people to be excited about their heritage and to learn about where they started.” 

She said this year’s event included a new Celtic children’s theater to teach people about the Celtic history. Celtic Classic also had storytelling, songwriting and a baking contest to inspire children to learn about their heritage. 

“I believe that when people learn about their own heritage, it makes them curious about others,” Mulligan said. “People’s minds are expanded to other worlds once they learn about their own.” 

Jane Schaffer, the chair of the cultural awareness committee for the Celtic Classic, said the event provides opportunities for the general public to learn about Celtic culture and all of its aspects. She has been on the committee for seven years. 

“The committee’s purpose is to bring to life a concept,” she said. “We want to make people’s ancestry a tangible part of their lives and to bring the past into the present.” 

The cultural awareness committee not only plans events for the Celtic Classic, but it also puts on programming throughout the year.

“It is so important to learn about other cultures,” Schaffer said. “You grow as a person, become less judgemental and become more tolerant of differences as you learn more.” 

The Celtic Classic is supported by volunteers and local organizations. Many volunteer at the Celtic Classic on behalf of The Family Promise of Lehigh Valley, a homeless shelter in Allentown. In addition to providing volunteer support at the event, The Family Promise of Lehigh Valley receives donations from attendees to support the shelter. 

Jim Byrnes, the executive director of The Family Promise of Lehigh Valley, said that this is the organization’s third year partnering with the festival. 

“The Celtic Classic helped us get money to open the shelter,” Byrnes said. “They contributed to us opening our doors last November. It is a great gesture on their part.” 

Byrnes said the Celtic Classic cares not only about the festival, but also about the entire community.

Mulligan said she appreciates the efforts of festival volunteers each year. 

“I am always truly amazed and humbled by the commitment that these volunteers have for a festival that lasts a few days,” Mulligan said. 

Seanna Corr, ‘20, attended the festival. She said she enjoyed herself and the great variety of music, food and shopping at Celtic Classic. 

“It was so easy to get there and it was a lot of fun—it was a 15 minute walk,” Corr said. “Lehigh students should get as involved in the community as possible.”  

Mulligan said that the committees start planning the next Celtic Classic as soon as the previous one ends. 

“We immediately try to figure out what went right and what went wrong,” she said. “We want to make it better and better every year.”

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