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Sherri Richards, Published March 15 2009

St. Patrick's Day celebration: 1 festival, 7 nations

The Irish may have marched down Broadway in Fargo on Saturday, but the Celtic culture was on display at Moorhead’s Hjemkomst Center.

The sixth annual Celtic Festival featured music, dancing, history lessons and art from all seven Celtic nations.

Daniel Morales and Sarah Bunker, both of Fargo, came to the event interested in learning more about Celts. Both were surprised by the amount of activities on hand.

“You see little things here and there about Celtic,” Morales said. “I thought it was just Irish.”

The seven Celtic nations are Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Isle of Man, Brittany (France), Galicia (Spain) and Ireland.

While St. Patrick may get most of the attention in March, Myrene Jones Peterson of Enderlin, N.D., doesn’t begrudge the Irish. A full-blooded Welsh, she celebrates St. David’s Day on March 1.

From her table at the Hjemkomst, Jones Peterson spouted facts about Wales, her ancestral home. Half the signers of the Declaration of Independence were Welsh, as were eight U.S. presidents, she said.

“There’s a lot of Celtic people in this area, and people just don’t realize,” Jones Peterson said.

Sarah Gress, program coordinator with the Fargo Park District, said a main reason the Fargo and Moorhead park districts sponsor the event is because many people in the area are of Celtic descent.

Greg Anderson of Detroit Lakes, Minn., represented the Clan Gregor Society, a Scottish organization. He led a presentation Saturday afternoon on Scottish folk hero Rob Roy MacGregor.

Anderson said it’s fun to talk to people about Celtic history and culture.

“There’s a real hunger in this area to learn about Celtic and Scottish heritage,” Anderson said.

Gress expected around 2,500 people would attend the free event. Standing-room-only crowds watched traditional Irish dancers. The Celtic Café served leek soup and corned beef brisket. Kids drew Celtic flags and made Welsh daffodils and King Arthur crowns.

Mike VanBavel and Tracy Zidon of Dilworth brought their 5- and 3-year-old children to the festival. With several finished craft projects in a plastic bag, they munched on potato bread Welsch cakes and Irish apple and oat crisp.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Zidon said. “The kids are having a lot of fun.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Sherri Richards at (701) 235-7311