Celtic Festival (Ardenwood Historic Farm, Fremont)

Summertime is coming. While festivals appear intermittently in the winter, they've been appearing with increasing frequency these last two months and has built to a crescendo. There are eight festivals scattered around the bay area this weekend that I'm tempted to attend!

The first festival I decided to attend on this Saturday, June 10th 2006, was the Celtic Festival, held at the Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont. The Ardenwood Historic Farm is an east bay park that used to be a farm, with all the usual accompaniments: barn, blacksmith, chicken coops, gazebo, large grassy fields, large tractored rows of dirt, old tractors, windmill, tiny local railroad for shipping grain around, and more. The day, beautiful, sunny, and warm, was perfect for wandering around outside.

I took these pictures during my time at the festival.

Upon arriving, the first thing I noticed was an open railroad car filled with people pulled by one tired horse. The car was used to transport people to the other end of the farm. I felt bad for the horse! And felt even worse when I soon walked by a carriage with only three people and pulled by two horses. Later I learned that there were many horses that alternated pulling the railroad car; that made me feel a little better. But it's still a tough job!

Since I arrived around lunch time, I followed the signs to the food (in particular BBQ) area and was disappointed to find they only served three items: tri-tip sandwiches, hot dogs, and turkey legs. Well, it's been a while since I've had a turkey leg, so that was fine. Except they were out of turkey legs. Instead, I had a sad tri-tip sandwich of a few slices of meat on a hamburger bun.

During my afternoon wandering, I later found a different food area. Too bad there weren't any signs for it nor was on the map. In consolation, it wasn't much better, having other greasy festival-type food that is slightly more appropriate to a Celtic festival. In addition to kebabs, chicken, and burgers, they had sausages (or, as the British call them, "bangers"), and fish and chips.

This is called burying the main paragraph: The festival had many cute themed exhibits. One guy talked about how swords and armor were made and used and demonstrated how "live steel" resonates. Another area provided fencing lessons. A man dressed as a druid (I knew he wasn't a real druid since he wore a fancy modern watch) wove stories about colored stones and taught children about hardness of stones and the effects of weather on their shape. A medicine man with many tools lectured and took questions about medical techniques in the past. There were many private parties. Many festival attendees were costumed, a refreshing change from most other festivals. There were staged battles. And there were many musicians: pipers, bagpipers, and players of other Celtic and Scottish. I managed to get pictures of some of aforementioned activities; check them out!

The only question I was left with was the relationship between the Celtic and the Scots over time. There were competing crafts booths of different ethnicities adjacent; the possible animosity between the businessmen made me wonder if a conflict went further back.

On the way out I stopped by the farm's museum, located in a restored railroad car. It had a number of interesting signs describing the history of the farm and railroad, covering the obsolescence of the railroad during the narrow gauge-standard gauge wars, and the skirmishes between the farms and the railroad barons. The latter made me add "The Octopus" by Frank Norris (freely available online), a novel on that subject written at that time, to my list of books to read.

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