John Peterson is pictured working at a recent celtic festival. 3 Celts &
Company sets up shop under a decorative tent. Peterson wears his Scots
Photo by Robin Bobeck
Two sections/Thursday, June 19,2003/Lindstrom,MN/104
Discovering his roots allows local
man to set sights on broadening his
work-a-day life and lives of others
BY DENISE MARTIN
Maybe it has to do with his desire to
promote the culture of his ances-
tors...maybe it has to do with his entre-
preneurial ambitions, or maybe it's just
because John Peterson enjoys seeing his
talents enjoyed by others.
Whatever the catalyst, Peterson's 3 Celts
& Company is becoming well known as a
place to go to find celt-inspired things. Or,
3 Celts will come to you...Peterson travels
extensively along the festival and arts
circuit selling wares in the open air.
If you are someone who attends ren-
aissance festivals or historic fairs, or likes
to spend time at Irish, Scottish, or celtic
celebrations, you have probably seen the
3-Celts & Company booth.
Peterson, a Lindstrom resident, said it all
began as long ago as 1989, when he bought
Northland Industries, where he is
employed. Northland fills custom orders
for silk screened T-shirts mostly. Peterson
was printing up others' designs, but he had
his designs inspired by his celtic roots and
he needed an outlet.
At the same time he was participating in
the Shakopee Minnesota Renaissance Fest-
It was there that he met the second of the
Peterson's comrade, Robbie Lane, did
fantasia sculpture; lots of dragons, fairies
and subjects like that.
The two talked over a few beers and real-
ized they wanted to sell their own things
together, share the costs of festival entry
and booth investment and have fun doing
"test flew" a booth selling
Peterson's T-shirts and Lanes's sculptures
at a science fiction convention. "We were
busy the whole weekend." Peterson
Along came Scott Roberts, another artist
who also worked the Shakopee Ren-
aissance Festival. Peterson explained, "We
met up casually, at a picnic, and found out
we all shared a Scots-Celt heritage and
wanted to learn more about that and get
The involvement, deepened as the three
joined a celtic heritage group,
Tartan," which is sort of a living history
organization and genealogic clearinghouse
for that general region of ancient Europe.
The men discovered opportunities to sell
their wares- but more importantly,
Peterson said, they also unearthed fas-
cinating personal genealogical infor-
His father's family were Petersens, who
for an unknown reason switched to an
"on" for the surname. His mother was a
Currie. He learned that his Scots roots
belonged to a subset of the McDonald Clan
of the Isle of Mull. Peterson is building a
website for 3 Celts & Company products
and some of the art he filed for the site
includes old photos of his mother's kin,
who he said settled into the New World at
Cambridge, in Isanti County,
Peterson grew up in Forest Lake, where
his family raised Tennessee Walking
Meanwhile- things started rolling for
3- Celts & Co. and along came Brent
Wold, a local blacksmith.
He'd also worked the renaissance festival
circuit, and makes his creations under the
name Boar's Head Blacksmithing. His
primitive, accurate pieces are now an inte-
gral part of the 3 Celts & Company inven-
tory. Wold can craft items from a replica
celt hair pin to a household tool.
The original founders, Lane and Roberts,
have "become less active" due to full-time
professional commitments and employ-
ment responsibilities. So, the three celts at
this moment are actually a duo.
The "and company" part of the name
refers to the line of celtic music, jewelry,
instruments, books, and clothes that
Peterson markets. For example, there's
jewelry made by pewter-smiths based in
Nova Scotia. "We hooked up with other
artists who have a very good product but
can't do it alone," Peterson explained.
Operating 3 Celts & Co. means lots of
travel attending festivals in other states or
a destination as close-by as Karl Oskar
Days this July. Three Celts & Co. will also
be at the Irish Festival on Harriet Island
August 9 and 10.
Peterson's quite solid in his opinions on
the homogenization of modern American
He feels fulfilled promoting things that
aren't easily found in the main-steam,
"...culturally we are getting
See 3 Celts/2.
From page 1.
stale...people are all afraid of offending
, he notes, is not
What someone brings home from 3 Celts
& Co. may or may not motivate them to
get involved in their heritage, but at the
very least, "...it gives them something to
take home," Peterson observed.
Plus, he said, "It's neat to see my designs
on people." He'll see a shirt with
something he printed long ago, and he has
to suppress the urge to walk up and tell the
wearer - "nice shirt."
John Peterson is to left in photo, and 3-Celts blacksmith Brent Wold can be seen
in background. Peterson makes the T-shirts from designs displayed at his booth.
This photo was taken during the Macalaster Festival held last month.