22nd Highlanders Festival: Radford Visitor’s Center invites you to celebrate the region’s Scots-Irish heritage in Radford

Radford, VA-Virginia’s Blue Ridge mountains are the perfect setting for the 22nd annual Highlanders Festival in Radford, VA on Saturday, October 6th. Visitors will be delighted with a full menu of music, athletic games, sheepherding and more than 50 craft and food vendors.

Set in Bisset Park along a beautiful stretch of the New River, the festival has become a major draw in the fall season for the City of Radford and Radford University, who partner to put on the special event that commemorates the Scottish and Irish influence on the early settlement of southwest Virginia.

This year that influence will be apparent with Tuatha Dea, a Celtic rock band with an Appalachian twist from Gatlinburg, TN, who will perform on the Gazebo Main Stage at 11AM, 1PM & 3PM. Tuatha Dea is featured on The New Bristol Sessions, a project celebrating the 90th anniversary of the 1927 Bristol Session that includes Dolly Parton, Virginia, 49 Winchester and more.  Burt MitchellVirginia Highlands Pipes & DrumsAppalachian Highlanders Pipes & Drums and the Radford Highlanders Pipes & Drumswill also be featured on the Main Stage.

Another major component of the festival each year is the athletic competition that some historians believe can be traced back to the 11th century in Scotland. Male and female competitors, dressed in kilts, will show their skills in such popular events as the caber and sheaf tosses; the stone put, similar to the shot put, and the Scottish hammer throw.  Chad Clark, a veteran competitor in strongman and powerlifting competitions, is directing the festival’s Tom Raisbeck Memorial games with a variety of athlete divisions. The competition gets underway at 9AM.

Rounding out the day-long schedule will be a diversity of performances and activities:

  • The Virginia Highlands Pipes & Drums band kicks off the event at 9AM with a massed band performance, which includes the march of the Scottish Clans and athletes at 10AM
  • The Community Stage entertainment lineup begins at 11AM with popular local band American Roots. The Porterfield Ensemble will perform their adaptation of “Walk to Freedom:  The Mary Draper Ingles Story” at Noon, and West End, an Indie/folk/alternative band will perform at 2:30PM. Both groups are from Radford. PanJammers, an award-winning steel drum orchestra based in Blacksburg, will entertain festival-goers at 1PM.
  • The Braveheart 5K Run/Walk gets underway at 10AM along the riverfront in Bisset Park followed by a free run for children. Registration fee for the run is $25, and runners can register between 9 and 9:45AM or on ItsYourRace.com. Run About Sports and Carilion Clinic are co-sponsoring the event, which benefits the American Heart Association.
  • A special children’s area will feature traditional activities as well as large inflatable bouncers, including a castle.
  • An Art Extravaganza will be open to all ages and supplies will be provided. The ‘making and creating’ begins at 9AM and ends at 4PM when a people’s choice winner will be announced.

Headline band, Tuatha Dea will perform a set on Friday evening, October 5th from 6:30-8PM at BT’s.  They also will offer a scotch tasting event hosted by Scotch master, Hal Clary.  BT’s is located at 218 Tyler Avenue.

Several local restaurants are also celebrating the weekend with everything from traditional Octoberfest fare at BT’s to a Tap Takeover with Highland Brewing at Macado’s.

For a complete list of accommodations and restaurants, see VisitRadford.com or for information about the festival call (540) 831- 6255 or visit Radford.edu/festival.