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Celtic Colours eyes record attendance

By Chris Shannon – Cape Breton Post

The
thunderous roar of more than 2,000 feet hitting the floor at the
Victoria Highland Civic Centre in Baddeck Saturday night capped a week
of ceilidhs and Celtic workshops across Cape Breton.
Billed as the world’s largest square dance, it featured some of the top
Cape Breton dancers and fiddle players performing dance sets and songs
as concert-goers bid a tearful farewell to the seventh edition of the
Celtic Colours International Festival.

“It was absolutely fabulous,” said festival director Max MacDonald, who
said there were about 1,100 people dancing away in the building.

“You never know how an event like that is going to work until the people arrive and the people decide how it’s going to work.

“(Saturday) night, these people were dancers. From the moment the music
started, the dance floor was packed and that’s the way it stayed all
night long.”

While total attendance figures for the nine-day festival won’t be
released for a few weeks, MacDonald said he expects ticket sales to
reach near 20,000, making it the “best attendance we have ever had.”

After the festival finale concert ended at 1 a.m., many people made the
10-minute drive down the road from Baddeck to whoop it up at the
Festival Club after hours party at the Gaelic College in St. Ann’s.

MacDonald said while official celebrations ended at the club’s 3 a.m.
closing time, some musicians held a jam session until 6 a.m.

“It was just lots of smiles over breakfast today and a lot of the
artists are leaving to go back to Europe and the U.S. and various
places where they live,” he said.

“They make a lot of friends here just because of the nature of the
hospitality that Cape Breton offers, and they don’t get that sort of
feeling of friendship everywhere they go.”

The final day of the Celtic celebration also included a matinee concert
at Strathspey Place in Mabou with the Cape Breton Chamber Orchestra and
special guests Buddy MacMaster, Mary Jane Lamond, J.P. Cormier and Dave
MacIsaac.

The Gaelic College also hosted an afternoon showcase called The Next
Generation, with young members of the Cape Breton Fiddlers’ Association
and local up-and-coming performers Krista MacKinnon and Rankin
MacInnis. Friday night the Savoy Theatre in Glace Bay was host to
Dangerous Duos, where local artists were paired up with visiting
artists to form duos performing for the first time in public. MacDonald
said he was awed by Irish singer/songwriter Tommy Sands who wrote a
song that afternoon about his time spent in Cape Breton and then
performed it during the Savoy concert.

This year’s festival featured 44 shows in 33 Cape Breton communities
over the nine days. The eighth annual Celtic Colours International
Festival will take place Oct. 8-16, 2004.

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