This story is a staff report from The Paper.

After a two-year-long hiatus, the Rio Grande Celtic Festival is back and better than ever!

Celebrating its 34th anniversary, the Rio Grande Celtic Festival is New Mexico’s oldest Celtic Festival and Highland Games. The event is a two-day celebration of Scottish Highland Bagpipes, Irish and Scottish dancing, Celtic clans, local food vendors and local musicians!

Traditional Scottish Highland Games

Scottish heavy athletics owe their roots to the Highland warriors who would keep in shape between battles by competing amongst themselves with everyday implements. A stone, a blacksmith’s hammer, and a tree trunk (caber) became tools for building strength for battle. 

Watch as athletes test their skills at nine grueling traditional Scottish heavy athletic events, like the Scottish Hammer which is a spherical, metal ball weighing 16 or 22 lbs that is fastened to the end of a wooden handle and are thrown for distance.

The Beard Competition

Think you’ve got a great Celtic beard? Sign up on the field to show off your awesome facial locks or mustache on Saturday! Sign up is from 9 am to 12:30 pm, and judging will take place at 1 pm. A portion of the $10 beard entry fee will be donated to charity.

While you’re checking out the beard competition, don’t forget to stop by one of the several breweries on tap to sample (or chug) local and traditional Scottish brews.

Tickets

The family event takes place at Balloon Fiesta Park this weekend, June 4-5. Get your tickets in advance here, or get your tickets at the gate. Single-day or two-day passes are available. Kids 11 and under are free! Gates open at 9 am and parking is free.