Scots-Irish Festival returning to Dandridge

The Bagpipe & Drum Band Playoff Challenge will take place at the 13th-annual Dandridge Scots-Irish Festival, which will take place on Main Street in downtown Dandridge on Sept. 28.

Scottish and Irish entertainers will vie for attention with the Bagpipe & Drum Band Playoff Challenge at the 13th-annual Dandridge Scots-Irish Festival, which will take place on Main Street in downtown Dandridge on Sept. 28.

The festival will begin at the Highland Stage (behind town hall) in Dandridge on Sept. 27 with a reception honoring its financial sponsors and contributing patrons.

The festival remains 100% sponsor and patron-driven as it provides free admission to the public for all events on Sept. 28.

“We appreciate the approximately five to six thousand individuals who attend the Dandridge Scots-Irish Festival each year,” said festival coordinator Mike Dockery. “Spending a weekend celebrating a unique culture and all the fun that goes along with it is certainly a sight to see.”

The second day’s experience will be a trip back in time to enjoy the heritage of the original Scots-Irish who settled in East Tennessee, circa 1783, following the Revolutionary War.

Visitors will experience Scottish and Irish music, Highland dancing, Irish step dancing, heritage organizations, Highland clan booths, Highland cattle and black-faced sheep exhibits, sheepdog trials, Highland athletic demonstrations and storytellers for both children and adults. Scottish and Irish food, baked goods, meals and treats will abound, as well as Scots and Irish merchandise vendors - and much more.

More than 12 clans and heritage organizations will be taking part in the festival. Visitors are welcome to talk with the representatives of these groups to learn more about their history and make connections with their Scots-Irish heritage. As a long time participant in Dandridge, Clan Graham is the Honored Clan for the 2019 festival. Richard Graham, Chieftain of Clan Graham in North America, is the distinguished guest for the event.

Highland entertainment will feature three Scottish/Irish bands on the main stage, including The Celtic Martin Family out of Newmansville, Pennsylvania, MacGilliossa from Safety Harbour, Florida and Trip Rogers from Charlotte, North Carolina.

On the Lowland stage, Good Tymes Ceilidh Band will perform along with piper and harpist, Kelly Shipe, as well as singer, fiddler and storyteller Kathryn Powell. Demonstrations of Highland dancing and Irish step dancing will also be presented from the Lowland stage.

The 6th-annual Pipe and Drum Band challenge playoff competition will include the Knoxville Pipes & Drums, the Chattanooga Pipe Band and the Atholl Highlander Pipes & Drums. These bands will play twice each during the day, as well as marching in the ceremonial parade on Main Street at noon and as Mass Bands on the Dike at 4 p.m.

Following the evening Ceilidh (concert) Saturday evening on Loch Douglas, most of the above entertainers will be on stage for a special Ceilidh Encore. Bagpiper Kelly Shipe will close the evening with her 13th-annual rendition of ‘Piper on the Dike’ while spotlighted on the otherwise completely dark dike behind Town Hall & the Highland Stage.

Returning for 2019 is the Ale Garden featuring a selection of Scottish, Irish and Mountain ales from Highland Brewing and served by the “Pour Guys.”

“Days Gone By,” an old-time children’s playground returns again this year. The games’ Highland athletic demonstration will be performed by Randy Gratz, Lt. Col. (USAF retired) now of the Florida Keys. Gratz will demonstrate events including the caber toss, hammer throw, stone put and more. Phil Lakin will bring his Highland cattle, Scottish black-faced sheep and his Border collie sheep dogs. Lakin will also have his Border Collies perform as in a “sheepdog trials” on the dike. Roger Kelley of Jefferson City will exhibit his Civil War books and uniforms.

There will also be a dog parade down Main Street and will feature dogs brought to the festival by visitors.

While the weekend of family fun and festivities celebrates the area’s Scots-Irish roots, the event appeals to a wide range of guests – whether their ancestors were Scots-Irish or not – for a day of fun, food and entertainment.

In addition to educating the public, the festival aims to create a significant and lasting impact on the East Tennessee community. For information of becoming a sponsor or contributing patron, please see “Sponsors” or “Thistle Club Patrons” on