As a Highland Games competitor in Bethlehem’s 34th annual Celtic Classic, Colin Dunbar’s Saturday morning started with a 22 lbs. hammer throw, followed by a Braemar stone throw, caber toss and sheep throw.
Contrary to the event name, Dunbar was not hurling sheep through the streets of Bethlehem, but in a similar spirit throwing a bale of hay from the end of a pitchfork as high as he could.
The Celtic Classic took place from Sept. 24 through Sept. 26. It’s hosted by the Celtic Cultural Alliance and featured the Highland Games. Thousands came out for the classic Celtic food, live music and pop-up shops.
Dunbar said his Saturday of throwing was, “overall a great day.”
He said even at 10 a.m., there was an amazing crowd present.
Aidan Gales, ‘22, went to the festival with some friends. He said he has been going to Celtic festivals since he was five with his mom, who is from Scotland.
“I don’t get to go to Scotland very often for obvious reasons, so it was cool to see other Scottish people in their element,” Gales said.
His uncles used to compete in the Highland Games in Scotland.
At the festival, Gales drank beer, saw Irish dancing, socialized and watched the caber toss.
In the caber toss, another competitor, John Van Buren, who is considered a rookie in the event, threw a 135 pound, 19 and a half foot pole across a grass field and followed it up with a backflip which he said is his usual gimmick.
Van Buren came from Boise, Idaho for his first year competing in the events as a professional.
He said the crowd that came out was one of the largest he has seen at these types of events.
After the massive pole was thrown in the caber toss, groups of Lehigh track and field students ran to retrieve it.
Chip Montgomery, the field marshall, is responsible for everything that happens on the field.
Montgomery has been involved with the festival for 27 years and said they have been working with the Lehigh track and field team for about 13.
“The relationship with Lehigh goes back a long time,” said Montgomery. “This is the most kids from Lehigh this year that I’ve ever had.”
Normally, there are under 10 volunteers, but this year there were 15.
Throughout the day, people walked around the festival wearing kilts. Montgomery was in his, which he said he wears every chance he gets. All the competitors were also in their Scottish kilt gear.
Gales said he skipped out on the kilt for the festival this weekend but has brought it out for a wedding before.
Montgomery said the Celtic Cultural Alliance has various education programs that run throughout the year. Some are teaching Gaelic, poetry and more. At the festival, they try to make enough money to support the organization throughout the year.
After a weekend of working 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Montgomery said his favorite part is Sunday night, once it has ended and he gets to kick his feet up.