Bagpipes and Bonfires

By Brenda Doneux and Katie Keller

It was a hot time in the old town of Stillwater on September 23 when nearly 500 people, many in kilts and costume, turned out on a hot and steamy night for the 6th biennial Bagpipes & Bonfires – a Celtic Street Festival, presented by the Episcopal Church of the Ascension.

The Rev. Buff Grace kicked-off the festivities with a prayer and proclamation as event co-chairs Brenda and Mark Doneux lit a large bonfire and more than 20 members of The Brian Boru Irish Pipe Band of St. Paul, MN paraded in front of the church.

Festivities under a huge street tent included a wine toss game, Hammershlagen, a kilt contest, a corral of Shetland Sheep, Lift Bridge Brewery beers, homemade pub food for sale including English Sausage Rolls, Steak & Guinness pies, Scotch Eggs, and artisan cheese samplers provided by Stillwater’s popular cheese monger The Wedge and Wheel.
Revelers kicked-their-kilts-up to the music of Inside Straight Blues Band, a popular six piece ensemble known for its unique sound of blues-rock tempered with solid jazz, funk and R&B.

The night culminated with an exciting raffle drawing for 2 round-trip tickets to Ireland ($3,500 value) and five other fabulous prizes.

The idea for Bagpipes & Bonfires evolved from the desire to host a simple outdoor festival in September around the time of the autumnal equinox, with of course, a bonfire. The word is believed to come from the late Middle English: bone + fire. In the time of the Celts animal bones were burned as part of harvest celebrations and to ward off evil spirits. Adding bagpipers to the mix seemed like a perfect match for a Celtic street festival. Ascension created Bagpipes & Bonfires to gather the community in fellowship, celebrate the Anglican heritage, and raise funds for our historic church and its community outreach programs.