Vegas pinning hopes on April games and possible 2012 festival
While plans for the much hyped Las Vegas International Celtic Festival pipe band competition have been scuttled for 2011, the organizers contend that they’re still hoping that the event can come off in 2012, but stress that the seventh annual Las Vegas Celtic Gathering & Highland Games is still going ahead on April 16-17, 2011.
A release from Celtic Festival Executive Director Dennis Nolan to pipes|drums stated that, despite the cancellation of the pipe band competitions, the International Celtic Festival’s self-described “signature event” – an International Tattoo featuring American, Canadian and British military bands – will go on.
“Those that have been on a games committee realize that a pipe band competition is not a self-funding event, but relies on sponsorships and the paid admissions from the games itself,” the release stated. “The price tag initially allocated to sponsor 85 bands to Las Vegas was staggering. In addition to the travel money of up to $8,000 for Grade 1 bands and $5,000 for Grade 2 bands, the Las Vegas event was going to cover hotel and local transportation costs. It became apparent this was still not enough and that more planning and an improved budget will be needed before this event can take place.”
pipes|drums checked with leaders of Grade 1 bands invited, and none so far has confirmed that $8,000 was offered by the Las Vegas committee. According to those that responded, the travel allowances offered range from $1,000 to $6,000.
One Grade 1 pipe-major who said his band was offered $4,000 for travel said, “Who was offered $6,000, I wonder? And why? That would irk me if other bands got more travel money ‘arbitrarily.’ “
The International Celtic Festival organizers also suggested that as much as $5,000 was offered to Grade 2 bands for travel, while the most that was previously confirmed was $4,000.
When asked for clarification, a spokesperson for the festival confirmed, “The travel offered to the Grade 1 bands was $1,000-$8,000, depending on how far the band was going to have to travel. The Grade 2 bands were offered $1,000-$5,000.”
According to travel compensation numbers provided to pipes|drums by pipe band leaders, there appeared to be no correlation between amount and distance to Las Vegas.
The annual Las Vegas Celtic Gathering & Highland Games is scheduled to be held April 16-17, 2010, at Floyd Lamb Park at Tule Springs. Earlier, it was confirmed that Scott MacDonald, former pipe-major of the Los Angeles Scots Pipe Band, has taken over as the chair of the piping, drumming and pipe band competitions. It is not known whether the games will incorporate the new 15-minute “concert” event that had been planned for the 2011 International Celtic Festival.
The statement from the Celtic International Festival organizers left the door open for pipe band competitions in 2012.
“The postponement is disappointing but collectively agreed a necessity to ensure Las Vegas delivers an event of the highest caliber. The Piping and Drumming Committee are satisfied that the journey had led us though a successful process which culminated in a finished recipe for this revolutionary competition. Input from bands both in the US and abroad have caused us to rethink our plans for the Las Vegas Invitational Pipe Band Championships although we wanted to establish this as strictly a North American competition. Las Vegas is a big drawing card for pipe bands worldwide, and will make for a wonderful competition second only to the World’s in Glasgow.”
Another Grade 1 leader, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, commented, “I suspect [the Las Vegas committee] have put all their eggs into the tattoo basket and it has been sold that way. The unfortunate losers are all the competition bands who now are reeling to figure out what their schedules may include next spring.”