Milwaukee’s own Irish Fest is the largest event of its kind in North America, and it returned to the Summerfest Grounds on Thursday with a slew of activities to celebrate the festival's 31st year.
Each year, Irish Fest highlights a different aspect of Irish music and culture as a special focus for the festival. This year is dedicated to celebrating bluegrass music, which evolved out of the folk music traditions of 18th century Irish, Scottish, English and Welsh immigrants who settled in the Appalachia region of the United States. The bluegrass music showcase will feature a traveling exhibit put on by the International Blue Grass Museum.
Aside from the exhibit, several performers who hail from Ireland will perform bluegrass sets at the festival, including We Banjo 3 and Brock McGuire Band. The whopping 16 stages within the festival grounds will also highlight a range of Celtic, traditional and modern music.
But it wouldn't be Irish Fest if you couldn't see one of the several Irish dance companies perform too. Look for performances by Milwaukee groups, including the Cashel-Dennehy Irish dancers, Trinity Academy of Irish Dance, Glencastle Irish Dancers, Kinsella Academy of Irish Dance and McMenamin Irish Dance Academy, among others. It’s also reported that festival-goers can learn some of the Irish set dances or how to dance a ceili (Irish-style square dance) in the Crossroads Area. Patrons can also try their hand at learning the Celtic harp in the Harp Tent.
And don’t forget about the food! From corned beef to fish and chips and Guinness Irish stew to shepherds pie, there’s plenty to feed a hungry belly. Oh, of course. How could I forget?!? There will also be beer. Lots and lots of Irish beer.
So to all of you headed that way... Sláinte! Maybe we’ll see you there.
Today, Irish fest is open from 12 p.m. to midnight at Maier Festival Park, 200 N. Harbor Drive. Admission is $15. For more information, head over here.
Original photo from Flickr.com (Creative Commons) by Frank Kovalchek