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Cheyenne Celtic Festival organizer Ryan Seckman competes in the Masters World Championships in Inverness, Scotland, during the Heavy Weight For Distance event. Courtesy

The end of summer doesn’t mark the end of outdoor events in Cheyenne. The capital city’s popular celebration of everything Irish, the Cheyenne Celtic Festival, is still on – just with much more hand sanitizer.

Organizer Ryan Seckman said the annual festival won’t be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, other than the addition of social distancing measures and several hand sanitizing stations.

“We’ve been working with the Department of Health to make sure we meet all the guidelines by them, so (that means) additional sanitation during the event and encouraging masks,” he said.

Friday, Sept. 18

If you’ve missed watching sporting events in person, consider checking out the 2020 Celtic Bison Highlander Strength Competition. From 1-7:30 p.m. Sept. 18 at the Cheyenne Depot Plaza, competitors from as far away as Maryland and Missouri will battle it out in several events: log clean and press, axel tire deadlift, frame carry (for 25 feet), stone over bar and Viking press.

Seckman said he’s particularly excited for Friday’s competition because all events scheduled to take place in the Depot Plaza were canceled this summer, so he’s eager to offer something for the community to enjoy safely.

“We’ll have almost 75 athletes competing, and they come from all over,” he said. “Many of the competitions were canceled (this summer) so a lot of athletes from out of state wanted to come because we were allowed to have one. So, the groups themselves will stay together, and then we’ll clean everything in between groups.”

Saturday, Sept. 19

The second day of the festival will kick off with a short parade through Lions Park at 10 a.m., which will allow the athletes to make their grand entrance into day two of the competition. After, attendees can head to the park’s Dunbar Field to browse educational tents hosted by Celtic clans (families in the Celtic nation) Fraser, Cain, Bruce, Johnstone, McKenzie and Gunn.

They can also shop at vendor booths including R&R Leatherwork, Altitude Soaps, Museum Replica Jeweler, The Cloak Drummer Co. (period dress and accessories company), doTERRA Essential Oil, Bomb Sweet Cotton Candy and Rifle Creek Kettle Corn Co.

For when hunger (for something non-sweet) strikes, eventgoers can chow down on entrées catered by Capitol Cuisine all weekend, with the option to wash it down with a cold one from Odell Brewing Co. Seckman said those with a more sophisticated palate can also try a Scotch egg catered by Red Lion Hotel and Conference Center on Saturday only.

Sunday, Sept. 20

In addition to the same food and beverage options, vendors and clan tents from the previous day, Sunday will also include an event Seckman finds particularly special.

“I’m looking forward to, at 2 p.m. Sunday the 20th, a Kirkin,” he said. “That comes from the Gaelic word that means ‘church,’ so we’re having a faith-based service at Lions Park, and the pastor from Cross T Cowboy Ministries will be presiding over that.”

All weekend

Throughout the event’s 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. run-time both Saturday and Sunday, there will be several Highland games and entertainers every hour providing live, socially distanced music performances. The purpose of these musicians is to provide background music, rather than to have people cluster and dance. But even though that purpose is different this year, Seckman is excited to provide an authentic entertainment experience for festivalgoers.

Performances will feature guitars, bagpipes and even a Celtic harp, and all the performers are from the greater Rocky Mountain region. One solo bagpiper is from Laramie, another is from Denver, and one of the large groups taking the stage will be the Colorado Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, Colorado’s only police and firefighter bagpipe band.

Seckman said his ultimate goal for the weekend’s festivities is to both expose Wyomingites to a culture they might be unfamiliar with and to provide a light at the end of what’s been a long, dark, virus-infected tunnel the last several months.

“I think it allows people to certainly build a sense of community,” he said of the festival. “We’re all in this together, but at the same time it’s good for people to have something to look forward to, and it’s a good reason to be outside and regain an appreciation for the events the community puts on. A chance to talk to some neighbors you haven’t talked to in a while.”

Niki Kottmann is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s features editor. She can be reached at nkottmann@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3135. Follow her on Twitter at @niki_mariee.

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