Thursday, August 09, 2007

News Item

From Special Irish Fest Irish Fest Correspondent Ronan Collins

Tens Of Thousands Attend Irish Festival's Best Year Yet

The Utica (NY) Observer. FRANKFORT — The Great American Irish Festival closed a three-day weekend, which featured a Gaelic Mass, traditional and modern music and an assortment of food.

The annual event was the best in its four-year history, organizers said.

The traditional Mass was one of the best additions of the weekend, festival founder and director Matt Sullivan said.

Sullivan estimated tens of thousands of people attended the event, but didn't have complete gate numbers.

There were increased amounts of volunteers and campers, too, Sullivan said.

"I promise as much growth as we experienced this year, next year's festival will be better," Sullivan said.

He wouldn't give specifics about what changes could be seen at next year's festival, but did say organizers hope to book bigger performance acts.

Bob Farrell of Sauquoit donned a Wallace Tartan kilt, which he ordered on the Internet a few years ago.

It was sent from Scotland, he said.

"I've been doing this for the last three years," Farrell said about his festival attire. "I'm hot, but it's been great weather, so you can't complain."

Farrell, 41, recalled one highlight of the weekend was listening to the sound of The Elders, a Kansas City-based group that's known as the most popular Irish band throughout the Midwest.

Fran Redmond, festival photographer, lauded the efforts of the volunteers who work together to make the festival happen.

"This is expanding beyond our wildest dreams," Redmond said. "It's a great feeling to be a part of it."

I've met Matt Sullivan at our Irish Festival Directors conferences and I'm thrilled to hear they had a great event, in spite of the misguided kilt wearing. Congratulations to all involved. Sounds like we may to look into booking these "Elders" characters...

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