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at the Nampa Celtic Fest and Highland Games.

June 22, 2014

Nampa is a city in Southwest Idaho. It has a population of just over 81,000, and is located just over one half hour’s drive from Boise. I live in Boise, but go to Nampa several times a month, because Nampa reminds me of several Central Valley, California towns. I’m from the Central Valley, and often miss it. Going to Nampa helps.

Also, my favorite hangout spot is in Nampa. It is called the Flying M Coffee Garage. I will write about it in another post. It’s a really fun and unusual place.

This year, Nampa hosted a Celtic Fest and Highland Games. They hadn’t had one there before, or at least not had one there since I’ve lived in Idaho. California has many Celtic Fairs, Renaissance Fairs, and Highland Games, but Idaho only has a few. The last two  years, the only Celtic event I’ve had the opportunity to attend was the Treasure Valley Celtic Faire and Highland Games, which has been at the Ada County Fairgrounds in Garden City. Garden City is a small town entirely encircled by the borders of Boise.

The Treasure Valley Celtic Faire is quite small by California standards, but still fun. The Nampa Celtic Fest was tiny. There were the usual burly guys in kilts throwing foreign objects (that’s the Highland Games part.. not interested in that part), there were two food vendors, one beer vendor, and one small stage.

And that was enough to satisfy me.

I ate the largest and best corndog I had ever had. It came with fries and a drink, and the combo meal only cost 5 bucks. The beer was 5 bucks for a pint, which is a bit steep, but beer and often food usually costs more at Celtic fairs and other events. The beer was quality. It was from a small Nampa brewery, and was rather good. I’d never tried coconut-flavored porter before.  (Brewers out here can be a bit odd. A small Garden City brewery, called Kilted Dragon, brews their porter with bananas).

The company selling the beers at the fair was called Crescent Brewery. There are many craft brewers in the greater Boise area, and I’ve tried brews from some of them, but this was the first time I’d had the chance to try something from Crescent Brewery.. very tasty porter. Reminds me quite a bit of Koko Brown Ale, from the Kona Brewery in Hawaii. Nice to get something like that brewed locally.

Not only was there great food and brew, there was also entertainment.  Two local dance troupes showed up. The one I like best out here is called Irish Dance Idaho. Unlike many Irish dance troupes, the girls in IDI do not wear those silly wigs, plaster on makeup, or put on outlandish costumes. They wear very nice, simple, attractive costumes, only put on as much or as little makeup as they feel like, and don’t wear wigs. And they are good. I’ve seen them perform several times in the past few years.

I got to the Celtic Fest too late to see the main IDI troupe perform, but some of the girls from IDI danced for a band that performed after them. This wasn’t planned, it just happened. I like moments of serendipity. And it’s great when these moments happen when I’ve brought my camera.

One of the girls asked the guys in the band for a free CD, and he said if she and the others standing around would dance while they played, they’d give away a free CD. So a few of the girls danced for two songs. Made the concert more fun.

There was another dance troupe as well. This one was called the Boise Highlanders. As you can probably guess by the name, this is a Scottish dance troupe. I’ve never seen them or any other Scottish dance group perform before. The girls were accompanied by a lone piper, and wore traditional Scottish clothing. Although I like Irish dancing better, I appreciated the Scottish troupe as well. The Boise Highlanders are a fairly large group, consisting of dancers, pipers, and drummers. Only a few of the members performed during the time I was at the Celtic Fest.

The band performing at the Celtic Fest was one I’d previously found online, but hadn’t yet heard. They are called Guess When Tribal Celtic. As far as I can tell by their facebook page, they might be a sort of a collective.. in other words, there are many musicians in the band, and their line-up varies depending on the concert and the availability of the various members. No fiddlers showed up to the Celtic Fest, but the band was quite good. A solid and entertaining Celtic Rock band.

The singer played bagpipes, but most of the time, he sang and played electric guitar. There was also a bass guitar player, lead guitarist, and drummer. They performed many great tunes. Some I could tell were Celtic classics. Other songs were obscure or were likely Guess When originals. Guess When is from a small town about 40 minutes drive from Boise, called Emmett.

I quite liked this band, and was very pleased to be there when the girls from Irish Dance Idaho did some impromptu dancing with the band.

Here are several performances from the Nampa Celtic Fest and Highland Games. Enjoy.

for more information:

… and for you local beer lovers:


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