Portland Center Stage Rent Portland Oregon

Yachats Celtic Fest plans for fall

The music fest, which lost its 20th season last year to the pandemic, plans to start again in '21 – if restrictions are eased in time.


Editor’s note: As coronavirus restrictions gradually ease, festivals and cultural organizations around Oregon – including the Yachats Celtic Music Festival, on the Coast – are making tentative plans to bring back live performances after a lost year. This story was published originally on March 10, 2021 on the coastal news site YachatsNews.com, and is republished here with permission.

By CHERYL ROMANO/YachatsNews.com

Most of the acts are booked. A reservation for the Yachats Commons has been made. And if COVID-19 restrictions permit, the Yachats Celtic Music Festival will return in November.

“Despite changing COVID-19 restrictions, we are optimistically moving ahead and continue planning for the 2021 Yachats Celtic Music Festival,” the board of directors of Polly Plumb Productions announced Tuesday. The nonprofit arts group oversees the festival and several other Yachats cultural events.

Cancelled last year — it would have been the 20th annual event — by the pandemic, the festival has grown to include high-level Celtic performers from across North America. In addition to singers and musicians, the popular event has also offered food, whiskey tastings, workshops and more, and has been a key attraction of the fall cultural/tourism season in Yachats.

“We are currently in a ‘yellow light’ cautious mode of planning,” the board said in its announcement, “hoping that state and local restrictions will be lifted by November and that we can proceed … we are still a few months out from ‘green-lighting’ the festival.”

The Irish quartet Altan, which has been touring for 30 years, is scheduled to be the headline act during the 2021 Yachats Celtic Festival — if pandemic restrictions allow the festival to proceed in November.

If state and local pandemic restrictions are lifted in time, the festival will go on the weekend of November 12-14. The board expressed hope that by May, plans might be more certain.

A major production, the festival draws on the time and effort of dozens of volunteers, and months of work by festival music director Stephen Farish of Waldport. Under his guidance, the festival has flourished to attract headliners from across North America, playing music rooted in Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Emphasizing that “everything is very tentative and up in the air right now,” Farish said that most of the performers are signed up.

“Many of the singers and musicians from last year were anxious to get on board this year,” he told YachatsNews. “All the artists are playing this the same way — they don’t know what’s happening, especially in Oregon.”

Farish noted that a number of states are loosening pandemic restrictions, and “hopefully, Oregon will follow suit.”

Farish said he’s optimistic about the likelihood of the festival carrying on, noting that the Hult Center in Eugene has an event scheduled for November.

When the 2020 event was cancelled, Farish said that “there’s no way we can hold the festival unless we can fill the hall at The Commons,” speaking of the festival’s main night. And the hall — which has a capacity of 250 people — couldn’t be filled unless social distancing guidelines were lifted.