Have we seen the last of Celtic Classic? Weather woes hit 2023 revenues like a hammer throw
- Low attendance and poor revenues caused by rain at this year's Celtic Classic festival may place the future of the event in question, officials said
- Event organizers are awaiting official numbers from last weekend's three-day event
- The festival has been impacted by inclement weather several times in its history
BETHLEHEM, Pa. — Could the financial ramifications of the rain-impacted Celtic Classic last weekend spell an end to the 36-year festival?
“We have no idea what next year has in store,” said Jayne Ann Recker, 15-year executive director at the Celtic Cultural Alliance, which organizes the annual three-day event.
“We’ll have to wait and see what our financial position is. It’s very expensive to hold this event. Anything’s a possibility.”
“We’ll have to wait and see what our financial position is. It’s very expensive to hold this event. Anything’s a possibility.”Jayne Ann Recker, executive director, Celtic Cultural Alliance
Mother Nature’s uncooperative nature will, when the official numbers are in, likely be responsible for lower attendance at this year’s festival.
Fewer people means reduced revenues from food and beverages, on which organizers rely on to help sustain the festival.
“We haven’t worked out all the final numbers yet, but it certainly wasn’t our strongest year,” said Recker this week. “We’ll have to wait for the bills to come in.
“But sales numbers were definitely impacted by the weather. It was not the best weather to go and wander around. There’s nothing you can do when Mother Nature takes over.”
Rainy weather on Saturday forced cancellation of the Showing of the Tartan Parade, among the scheduled high points of the festival.
Recker noted the incredible expense her organization incurs to hold the festival — from hiring entertainment to come from Scotland, Ireland and Wales, to bringing in athletes from as far away as Washington State and Arizona to compete in the Highland Games.
'Hopefully we can rally the troops'
The festival has been impacted by rains and storms several times during its history.
“That year we were flooded out and were on the brink of closing. But I worked with a group of volunteers to save it. We wound up heavily in debt but were able to save it working with great volunteers and the support of the community. Hopefully, we can rally the troops and make that happen again.”Celtic Classic Executive Director Jayne Ann Recker
In 1992, three days of cold rain from tropical storm Danielle canceled the festival's opening ceremonies. A torrential downpour also kept attendance down in 1996.
In 2004, the remnants of Hurricane Ivan flooded the tents with 6 feet of water days before the festival, forcing Celtic Classic to lay off all three of its paid staff members and to take out a $60,000 line of credit.
In 2008, heavy rains caused the Monocacy Creek to flood, washing away much of the festival and causing more than $100,000 in losses.
“That year we were flooded out and were on the brink of closing,” Recker said. “But I worked with a group of volunteers to save it. We wound up heavily in debt But were able to save it working with great volunteers and the support of the community.
“Hopefully, we can rally the troops and make that happen again.”