The ribbon was finally cut on June 20th, marking the official opening of the multi-million-dollar Littlefield Celtic Center in Mount Vernon, Washington, after years of fundraising and benefactor donations, allowing the new building to accommodate seated meals, concerts and lectures for up to 150 people in the Pacific Northwestern United States.
The brains behind the intiiaitive is Skye Richendrfer, who founded the Celtic Arts Foundation in 1997. Richendrfer is a former piper with the Grade 1 Simon Fraser University Pipe Band and was mayor of Mount Vernon for seven years. A graduate of Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and a former pipe-major of that school’s band, he now serves as the executive director of the foundation.
Named after Laura and Edmund Wattis Littlefield, Jr., who contributed US$1.1-million to the project, the new centre promises to “become a hub of activity that will make a vibrant contribution, not only to the Celtic Arts Foundation and its stakeholders, but to the broader community as well.”
According to Richendrfer more than 150 individuals from seven U.S. states and two Canadian provinces resulted in some US$240,000 being raised initially. Other donations in the hundreds-of-thousands were also made.
The Celtic Arts Foundation is a registered nonprofit organization and sponsors, encourages, and promotes Celtic culture through community festivals, events, and education programs, including many focused on Highland piping and pipe bands. The Masters of Scottish Arts Concert and workshops held every February in Seattle have grown to be something of a world standard when it comes to attracting top talent.
Mount Vernon has a population of about 31,000 and is approximately 160 kilometres from Vancouver and 120 kilometres from Seattle.