ELKINS — Timothy Ferguson came before the Randolph County Commission this week to make an announcement and ask for support for an upcoming event.
Ferguson, a former Randolph County resident, told commissioners Chris See, David Kesling and Cris Siler that the 2023 West Virginia Wild and Wonderful Celtic Festival and Highland Games will be held at 4-H Camp Pioneer in June.
“We plan to make this an annual event to be held on the third Saturday in June each year,” Ferguson, president of the organization, said. “I have attended dozens of Celtic festivals on the East Coast in several different states, and I sincerely believe that we can make this festival one of the best in the country.”
Ferguson said 4-H Camp Pioneer is the perfect place to host the event and told the commissioners what the function will have to offer, young and old.
“Some of the attractions will be a Celtic ancestry tent where visitors can research their Celtic family history,” he said. “There will also be a clan village with several different clan families and this area will highlight the history of each clan.
“We will have traditional Celtic food and drink, as well as Highland dancing featuring Elkins’ own West Virginia Highland dancers, plus many others. There will be live Celtic music, storytelling, demonstrations and vendors of blacksmiths and traditional Celtic wares.
Ferguson said the highland games portion of the function will include many different events, including a sheaf toss and a 5k kilt run, to name a few. He said the event will feature professional, amateur and adaptive Highland games for competitors, who will travel from across the United States.
There will also be plenty of activities for children during the event, including highland games, as well as a Loch Ness Monster and Unicorn hunt. Young people will also be treated to lessons in arts, crafts, face painting and Highland dancing.
“At the end of the Highland games, one thing we do is take all the kids out there and let them face off against one of these huge competitors in a showdown,” said Ferguson. “We put them on the ground with a big rope and let each child try to move them.”
Ferguson asked the commission to support the event with financial assistance. He asked for the amount of $8,000, or whatever the commission could do to help organize the event.
“I have already met with the Randolph County Recreation Board and secured the 4-H Pioneer Camp for the event,” said Ferguson. “There is no doubt that fairs and festivals are great for the community and our festival will be no different. The local community will benefit from the festival as many visitors will come to the area to witness the event. Local businesses such as hotels, restaurants and retailers will benefit financially.
Ferguson said expenses for the event would be around $25,000 to $30,000. He noted that the event’s base revenue would come from ticket sales, vendor fees, t-shirt sales, donations and sponsorships.
Siler asked Ferguson when the organization would need the funding. Ferguson replied that he hoped to have all the funds in April. He told the commission he expects more than 1,800 people to attend the event.
Kelsing told Ferguson that he and the other commissioners would meet, discuss the funding request and let him know their support at a later date.
Ferguson is a 31-year retired U.S. Army veteran and former resident of Elkins, Valley Bend and Kerens. As a youth, he attended Central School and Elkins Junior High.