The festival begins with a tattoo at the Old Spanish Trail Arena, 3641 S. U.S. 191. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the show will begin at 7 p.m.
The Celtic Festival tattoo will feature a color guard, massed bands — pipe bands that join together to play traditional tunes — dancers and two modern Celtic bands, Annie’s Romance and the Wicked Tinkers.
“Each [pipe] band chooses their songs that they compete with in different categories, but then they all play certain songs together,” festival organizer Marta Lamont said. “It’s amazing to hear these bands that didn’t practice together, play together that day.”
Marta and her husband, Dan Lamont started the festival three years ago after attending Celtic festivals around the West.
“[Dan] had always wanted to do these festivals,” Marta said. “ ... I’d never been to one and it was so much fun.”
The Moab festival grew quickly. A gathering of 35 clans is "enormous" for a relatively new event, Dan Lamont said.
“The first year we did really well — we didn’t expect [the attendance] we got,” he said. “This year it’s going to be a powerhouse.”
Last year, the festival drew roughly 2,000 people, and this year the Lamonts expect an even larger crowd.
“We want people to come to Moab, to enjoy Moab as well as the games,” Dan Lamont said.
The clans are a major draw for visitors, he said. Every clan has families that fall within the clan — the White and Brown families, for instance, fall within the Lamont clan “sept,” or wider family. The clan of Lamont has about 50 families, while larger clans like the Stewarts, McDonalds or Campbells may include more than 100 families.
People with Celtic heritage can look up family names in books at the festival’s clan booths to see which clan their ancestors fell under, and learn about the history of their clan.
This year, the festival has also been asked to host the North American Lightweight Women’s Championship for heavy athletics, in which the top 10 competitors from the U. S. and Canada compete to go to the Highland Games in Scotland. Events include a hammer throw, stone put (similar to shot put), sheaf toss, in which a bundle of straw is thrown over a high bar using a pitchfork, and the famous caber toss, which Dan Lamont jokingly described as “the guys throwing telephone poles.”
Aside from the women's championship, there will also be heavy athletics competitions for men and a range of weight classes.
“We’ve been told through the Celtic world that Moab will be one of the premier games in three to four years, which means, big,” Dan Lamont said.
New this year, the festival will have wine and whiskey tastings. There will also be music, door prizes, children’s activities and vendors selling Celtic crafts. Awards will be presented at the closing ceremony on Sunday, followed by an after-event party at Woody’s Tavern. Tickets cost $20 for all three days and will be sold at the gate.