This year marks the 25th Australian Celtic Festival in Glen Innes.
The idea of the festival first came from the original committee as a tool for promoting the Australian Standing Stones.
“This would attract visitors once a year but, by word of mouth, would encourage visitation all year round,” original committee member Raelene Watson said.
Over the years the festival has seen many changes, including the length and content of the event, Ms Watson said.
“Friday afternoon was the official opening, Friday night the tartan ball,” she said.
“Saturday morning was the dawn service, followed by the street parade, then entertainment at the Stones till about 3.30pm.
“Saturday night there was a concert at the Services Club and Sunday morning Celtic church services, national ceremonies at the Stones, and kirking of the tartan heralded the end of the weekend. How much that has changed since 1995.”
In 1996, Wendy Fahey and Jack Ritchie put in an application for three new events. One, at the suggestion of John Turner, was the sheep dog trials. Another by Desmond Fitzgerald was the strongman event, and with Jo Duck, a Celtic art day.
“We were successful in this grant, and we still have the sheep dog trials and strongman event still running,” Ms Watson said.
“This also gave us new funding for promotions and the event began to draw more crowds. Another event was the tug-of-war with Malcolm Kerr being the main organiser. We had a couple of state and national titles held here.”
While many of the original committee are now gone, the Australian Standing Stones Management Board has the Rock of Remembrance for those who had served for 10 years. This year, Mr Frank Mitchell will be recognised for his efforts with the building on the site. The Services Club has also acknowledged the hard work of the pioneers, with the Celtic Roll of Honour in the club’s foyer.
“Without the foresight by these people there would be no festival for Glen Innes to be proud of,” Ms Watson said.