A new festival is coming to Fayetteville – and it’s giving off serious “Outlander” vibes. “Outlander” as in the television series on Starz that features kilt-wearing, time-traveling adventurers. The Carolina Caledonian Festival takes place at Campbellton Landing Oct. 28-29. Kilt-wearing and time-traveling is optional but not entirely unexpected.
“Caledonian” refers to any person of Scottish descent. It originates from the old Roman name for Scotland. So naturally, the festival’s purpose is to celebrate Scotland, its traditions (particularly of Highlanders) and descendants.
The festival was borne out of event organizer Allen McDavid’s connection to his own lineage. His ancestors are originally of the Argyll Colony, which has more than a million descendants in the Fayetteville and surrounding area today, according to McDavid.
McDavid detailed how the Caledonian Festival will have a “Renaissance fair-like” feel but with a more historically accurate representation of Scottish culture. There will be a traditional market with merchants selling foods and wares. Re-enactors will be dressed and speaking like famous 18th century Scots. Demonstrations of Highland swordfighting and Scottish dancing will also take place.
“(The festival) will be like living history,” McDavid said.
Several musical performances will also be held at the festival, including the Celtic band Tuatha Dea, the Irish band Lift, the Cross Creek Pipes and Drums (home-grown in Fayetteville), and the Tan & Sober Gentleman and Carolina Ceili groups.
With the Caledonian Festival revving up on the weekend before Halloween, a few spooky treats are in store. Young ones will be able to trick or treat throughout the market or see the pumpkin-carving stations – a practice that originated in Scotland.
But the festival doesn’t intend to leave out Samhain. This refers to an ancient Gaelic festival celebrated in Scotland that represented the seasonal end of the harvest on Oct. 31. It was also seen by pagan ancestors as a time when fairies could easily cross over to our world. Think Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos. On Saturday night of the Caledonian Festival, there will be a bonfire and a telling of Samhain lore to attendees.
The imprints left behind by the Scottish Highlanders who settled in this region more than 200 years ago can be felt in almost every corner of Fayetteville. Seventy-First High School, for example, is named after the 71st Highland Regiment that fought in the French and Indian War. The Loch Lomond neighborhood bears the name of the largest lake in Scotland and the British Isles.
So, a festival dedicated to celebrating Highland culture is not only necessary to the area but also great fun for the season.
“I hope that attendees learn what seems to have been forgotten in these parts – that Fayetteville’s name may be French, but its DNA is Scottish,” said McDavid.
The Caledonian Festival has also partnered with the Second Harvest Food Bank of Southeast North Carolina. Two dollars will be taken off admission for those who bring a non-perishable item or can of food to the main gate. Adult tickets are $10 per day, and admission is free for children under 12. The festival runs Saturday, Oct. 28, 8 a.m.-11 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 29, noon - 6 p.m. Learn more at www.caledonianfest.com.