August 25, 2008
Scots display heritage at Celtic Festival
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Nine-year-old percussionist Quinn Cosentino of Rome adds rhythm to the Mohawk Valley Frasers pipe band Saturday during the opening ceremony of the Cortland Celtic Festival.
Chip Crawford looked as if he had sprung from Scottish history, with his bushy beard, tall and solid frame, kilt and leggings.
He stood in a tent at Saturday’s 8th Annual Cortland Celtic Festival that celebrated the clans Crawford and Johnstone, and showed visitors some of the 283 wooden shield replicas he has made, representing branches of his clan.
One display case said Kraufurd, copied from a castle in Scotland where it had been written in 1026. He turned over a shield to show it was from Donegal, Ireland, for a Crawford branch dating to 1200.
Or Crafurd, as it was spelled. In Sweden, Crawford was spelled as Crafoord. More recently it became Crawford, as in Col. William Crawford, a hero of the Ohio frontier who was a close friend of President George Washington.
Amid competitions of strength, displays of dance and music and crafts, and plenty of food, history was very much a theme at Courthouse Park.
“For 800 years, Crafurds guarded the popes and some kings, including the kings of Sweden,” said Crawford, who is from Fulton and said he is one of nine candidates around the world for Crawford clan chief. “In old times, clans met at castles and held games, and clans had their own areas for themselves. The holder of the castle would choose from the games competitors for his army.”
Behind his tent, in the games areas, men and women in kilts showed their muscle in Highland Games events such as the brae mar stone toss (a 28-pound weight), heavy stone throw (56-pound weight) and the caber, which resembles a log. The events, also called Scottish Heavy Athletics, included a sheaf toss.
Harrison Bailey of Bethlehem, Pa., won the Highland Games for the second time in three years. The competition was sponsored by the Cortland Regional Sports Council.
Nearby, at the Royal Auto Complex Main Concert Tent, Celtic dancers and singers performed, and the Mohawk Valley Frasers band unleashed the sound of their bagpipes and drums. The Highland Dancers of Homer showed their timing and grace for a crowd of about 100. At the other end of the festival, Celtic performers sang and played under a tent.
But also there was plenty of opportunity for festival visitors to explore their Celtic heritage. Crawford offered applications for DNA testing for genetic genealogy. R.J. and Meredith Clark of Dandridge, Tenn., made certificates and decorative artwork of clan names. Owners of RoseCrag, a history business, they displayed the Book of Names, which lists 15,000 clan names.
Meredith Clark said some names had varying spellings because when immigrants from Europe reached the U.S., often they could speak but not write their name. The immigration officers wrote down what they heard.
“So ‘o’ might become ‘a’ for someone,” she said. “Some names were anglicized because people didn’t want connotations of the old country. Many Europeans who came over were indentured servants, and they couldn’t always write.”
She said grandmothers stopped at her tent to have souvenirs made for grandchildren. Other people just looked through the names.
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