Live music made a triumphant return to Alexandria last weekend, as the inaugural edition of the Glengarry Celtic Festival played to sold-out crowds for two days.

The event hosted by the Atlantic Pub & Eatery saw music kick off on Friday evening August 13, with performances by Noel and Rachel Campbell and featured artist The Hallions. On Saturday August 14, The Brigadoons got the party started in the early afternoon, followed by The Campbell Trio, Conal Ownzez, and Saturday night headliners Hadrian’s Wall. Attendance was limited to a maximum of 150 people onsite each day.

The festival was hosted by the non-profit organization Musical Celebration Musicale (MCM). Based out of Alexandria, the organization fosters young musicians throughout the area, as well as promoting live musical events and helping musicians with online performances during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re super happy,” said MCM President Gabrielle Campbell, who did double duty on the weekend while playing alongside her son Noel and daughter Rachel with the Campbell Trio on Saturday. “We’re especially happy to be able to raise funds for MCM.”

MCM has been focused for the past year on ensuring that musicians in the area are working and motivated, Campbell noted, and the festival provided all the bands with a safe venue to once again perform before live audiences.

While 2021 was the first live event for the Glengarry Celtic Festival, MCM did host a very successful virtual event in 2020, with musicians playing online. The 2020 concert racked up more than 30,000 views on Facebook.

“It brought people together from all Canada and the United States – people were really chatting away – and it was at a time when people really needed it,” said Campbell of the 2020 virtual concert. “Glengarry brings people together and they really connected on that platform. It really encouraged us to continue on with the festival.”

Originally scheduled for May, the festival was moved to July, and then to mid-August, as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to wreak havoc with public events.

“We just went with the flow – that’s what you have to do,” Campbell said. “The difficulty with that of course is, you publicize things and you try to sell tickets really quickly and then the event keeps getting pushed.”

“We’re very happy with the way things turned out, particularly with the short amount of time we had to prepare.”

Musicians playing at the Glengarry Celtic Festival were excited to once again play in front of live audiences after long periods without playing live, or even practicing.

“A lot of these bands have just been rehearsing together again for the past little while, so it’s been a real comfort to everyone,” Campbell noted. “And then to be able to share that with the public was fantastic.”

The Campbell Trio performed on Saturday, August 14, at the Glengarry Celtic Festival. Photo by Reid Masson

The crowd on the patio and backyard of the Atlantic Pub & Eatery in Alexandria was greeted with perfect weather for the Glengarry Celtic Festival last weekend. Photo by Reid Masson