Celtic Christmas returns to Hagood Mill on Dec. 20

The late Ed Harrison

PICKENS — The Ed Harrison Memorial Celtic Christmas is set for Hagood Mill on Saturday, Dec. 20, from noon to 3 p.m.

Several years ago, Hagood Mill approached well-known local Uilleann pipe player Ed Harrison to host a Celtic Christmas show in December. The event has become an annual tradition and has featured many fine local and even international musicians sharing songs of the season.

Harrison was a remarkably versatile musician, with a passion for playing multiple styles of roots music on a wide variety of instruments. He was an accomplished dobro player and clawhammer banjo player, as well as playing cajun accordion and the aforementioned Uilleann pipes. His warmth, good humor and ready laugh were a comfort to his family and many friends in the area. Sadly, after more than 20 years of battling cancer, Harrison passed away in 2012. The annual event has been named in his honor.

This year’s event features three local musical acts: Lucy Allen and Marshall Goers, The Battleaxe Band, and Lissakeole.

Allen and Goers are an acoustic duo whose passion for roots music combines elements of various musical genres. For the past 10 years, Allen and Goers have shared the stage, creating memorable musical performances. They have made two recordings together: “Just Passing Through” and “Won’t See Tadpoles Covered in Fur,” an album dedicated to kids of all ages. Allen and Goers have been regulars at the Celtic Christmas show the last several years, hosting a sing-along portion of the event.

The BattleAxe Band puts out old time and Americana music that is fun and hard-driving. They have been playing together for close to 10 years. The band likes to play old-time tunes, from the well-known, such as “Mississippi Sawyer” and “Yellow Rose of Texas,” to the more obscure, such as “Pat ‘Em On the Back” and “Greasy Coat.” Band members are Amy Buckingham on fiddle, guitar, banjo and vocals; Brooke Mitchell Lauer on banjo, fiddle and vocals; Lucy Allen on guitar and vocals; and Nancy Hamilton on bass and vocals.

Lissakeole (lis-sa-key-ole) is a highly skilled, versatile, five-member Irish music group from Greenville. The band consists of Gabrielle Ward (lead vocalist, bodhran and tin whistle), Kaplan Ward (vocalist, guitar and bouzouki), Cody Wagar (tenor vocalist, guitar), Jennifer Vittoe (bass, backup vocalist), and Daniel Hendrix (uilleann pipes, tin whistle, low whistle). Lissakeole plays and sings many popular Irish tunes and songs, but they put their own stamp upon them. They also play several original songs along with some lesser-known songs to keep things fresh. Further, they utilize the uilleann pipes, the national bagpipe of Ireland.

This promises to be a very special day at Hagood Mill. Why, even Santa Clause himself has decided to drop by and join in on the entertainment. Kids and adults alike are welcome to come sit on Santa’s lap and share a Christmas wish. Bring a camera and Ol’ Saint Nick may even pose for a picture with you from noon-2 p.m.

There will be lots of other things to see on the day of the event as Hagood Mill hosts a variety of folk life and traditional arts demonstrations. There will be blacksmithing, bowl-digging, flint knapping, chair-caning, moonshining, broom-making, basket-making, pottery, quilting, spinning, knitting, weaving, woodcarving, metal-smithing, bee keeping, leather-working and more. You can ask questions of the artists and make a purchase of their Traditional Arts to take home.

The centerpiece of the Hagood Mill historic site is the water-powered 1845 gristmill. It is one of the finest examples of 19th century technology in the Upcountry and operates just as it has for the last century-and-a-half. The mill will be running throughout the day. In the old mill, fresh stone-ground corn meal, grits and wheat flour will be available. In addition rye flour, Basmati rice flour, oat flour, oatmeal, popping corn meal, and grits, organic yellow corn meal and grits, and buckwheat flour are produced and may be available. Hagood Mill cookbooks and a variety of other mill related items are also available.

The Hagood Mill historic site is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. all year long. The mill operates, rain or shine, for a special festival the third Saturday of every month.

The Hagood Mill is located just three miles north of Pickens off U.S. 178 or 5.5 miles south of Cherokee Foothills Scenic S.C. 11 off U.S. 178 at 138 Hagood Mill Road.