A “crowd favorite,” the Wicked Tinkers are performing tribal Celtic music at the Scots on the Rocks Moab Celtic Festival.                         

[Photo courtesy of Scots on the Rocks]

Fall is in the air, and soon the cool breezes will carry the sound of bagpipes as Scots on the Rocks Moab Celtic Festival returns for its fifth annual event on Friday, Nov. 2 through Sunday, Nov. 4 at the Old Spanish Trail Arena, 3641 S. U.S. Highway 191.

As in previous years, the event will include an array of traditional Highland games, including bagpipe band and solo competitions, Highland Dance and athletic competitions such as the caber toss — a traditional Scottish athletic event in which competitors toss a large pole called a caber.

The event kicks off on Friday at 7 p.m. with a color guard performance by the Scottish American Military Society, composed of veterans who have Celtic roots.

“They wear their kilt, and put on a top hat,” said Dan Lamont, the event’s co-founder, who also works at the Moab Veteran’s Affairs (VA) clinic as a health technician. “Their shirt has all the ribbons and awards they earned while they were in the service.”

Lamont and his wife, Marta, founded the Scots on the Rocks Moab Celtic Festival event in 2014 after attending numerous Celtic festivals around the country for more than a decade.

Lamont said he and Marta regularly attend 10 festivals a year to “promote their clan.”  

“In the Lamont clan, we probably have 50 families, maybe more,” he said. “And some of the Blacks, Browns, Whites — they all belong to my clan. Through the Scottish heritage, we’re related. It’s kinda neat to know who is part of your clan and who isn’t. That’s what the clans do, teach the people who come into their booth about clan history.”

He said that he expects close to 40 clans will have booths at this year’s Scots on the Rocks.

“It’s awesome, but I have to admit my clan is the best, in my opinion,” Lamont said.

While Lamont estimated that the first year of Scots on the Rocks had about 800 attendees, he said he expects between 2,500 and 3,000 people at this year’s event.

“Every year it gets bigger,” Lamont said. “It’s culture; if you’re Celtic — Scottish, Irish or Welsh — then this is where you need to be on this weekend.”

He added that the event is open to persons from all backgrounds.

Lamont also said there will be about a half-dozen food vendors at the event, as well as other vendors selling Scottish wares, such as swords and kilts. In addition, there will be live music by the Knock Abouts and the Wicked Tinkers, who Lamont said is a “crowd favorite.”  

And, if you noticed that “Scots on the Rocks” sounds a lot like the adult beverage “scotch on the rocks,” it’s not a coincidence.

“The only real true Scotch in the world is made in Scotland,” Lamont said. “And there are several hundred different kinds.”

While the event is family friendly, there will be drinks available at the event supplied by the Moab Brewery and Castle Creek Winery.

“You’ll always see Guinness, and Murphy’s,” Lamont said, noting both are Irish beers. “You don’t see many Scottish beers. That’s the only thing the Irish gave us: good beer.”

Ken Ballantyne, a Moab local and former Grand County Council member, hasn’t missed a single Scots on the Rocks event. He said his grandfather was born in Scotland, and as far as he can tell, the Ballantynes are associated with either clan Campbell or Stuart of Bute, or both.

“I love what they are doing with the event,” Ballantyne said. “My grandfather passed away before I was born, so this event gives me a small insight to my heritage. I love the music, the food (most of it), and the willingness of other clans to help me in my quest for knowledge.”

Ballantyne also promised that the day will come when he will don traditional Scottish garb.

“One day you will see me in a kilt,” he vowed. “I will rock that look.”

Moab Celtic Festival returns with bagpipes, dance and competitions

“If you’re Celtic — Scottish, Irish or Welsh — then this is where you need to be on this weekend.”

When: Friday, Nov. 2 through Sunday, Nov. 4

Where: Old Spanish Trail Arena, 3641 S. U.S. Highway 191

Cost: Varies, $10 for a one-day ticket. Tickets are on sale at scotsontherocksmoab.com, or can be purchased on-site.

Contact: Email moabcelticfestival@gmail.com or visit scotsontherocksmoab.com.