Dan Lamont and his wife, Marta, founded the Scots on the Rocks Moab Celtic Festival event in 2014 after attending numerous festivals celebrating Celtic (Scottish, Irish and Welsh) heritage around the country for more than a decade. This year, festivals of all kinds across the country have been canceled due to the pandemic. But, Lamont said, Scots on the Rocks has made a plan that meets COVID-safety guidelines. Festival events will be held entirely outdoors on the grounds of the Old Spanish Trail Arena (3641 S. Hwy 191) while maintaining the use of masks and physical distancing at all times. You don’t have to be of Celtic descent to attend; the festival is open to all members of the public.
While some of Scots on the Rocks’ regular events, such as the Highland Dance Competition, had to be canceled this year due to safety concerns, Lamont said there are nearly 30 vendors signed up to attend, several bands that will perform live and more than 30 clans registered to have a booth – including some that have never attended Scots on the Rocks before. Clans use the booths to share cultural and family history.
“In the Lamont clan, we probably have 50 families, maybe more,” Lamont said. “And some of the Blacks, Browns, Whites — they all belong to my clan. Through the Scottish heritage, we’re related. It’s kinda neat to know who is part of your clan and who isn’t. That’s what the clans do, teach the people who come into their booth about clan history.”
Lamont said the Celtic heritage festival scene has been greatly missed.
“Everybody wants to get out; everybody needs to get out,” said Scots on the Rocks Moab Celtic Festival organizer Dan Lamont, adding, “They want to get out and do their Scottish thing.”
The event area opens at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 7, and vendors will start selling an hour later. The official opening ceremony – which features pipes and drums, and a Clan March – kicks off at noon.
The Rinceoiri Don Spraci Irish Dancers will perform, as will the Celtic music duo Lougheed, Celtic Americana Rock band Swagger, and Scotland-born musician Brian Caldwell.
There will also be two athletic competitions. One is the Utah State Stone Put Championship; Stone put is similar to shot put, though participants typically use a regular stone rather than a steel ball. The other is the 5th Annual Lightweight Women’s North American Highland Games Championship, in which the top lightweight women from the United States will be competing in nine Scottish strength-testing events to crown the 2020 Champion.
Other activities include a whisky tasting and the Bonnie Knees Contest; there will also be door prizes and a silent auction. Closing ceremonies take place at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Lamont gave a shout-out to community members who have contributed to Scots on the Rocks including Karen Freary, Marianne Delay, Cassie Patterson and Mike Kelso. He also gave thanks to local businesses that support Scots on the Rocks with donations such as items for the silent auction, and the staff of the Old Spanish Trail Arena.
“Moab really supports this festival,” Lamont said.
For more information – including a full schedule and further details on COVID safety measures – and to purchase tickets, go to www.scotsontherocksmoab.org.