The KC contingent has returned from the Irish festivals conference in beautiful Muskegon, Michigan with our heads full of ideas, out hearts full of joy from time spend catching up with old friends and our livers full of holes.
Before I do anything else, I want to send a HUGE THANK YOU to all our great friends in Muskegon who rolled out the red carpet as only they can and put on an incredibly great conference. Words can't express what a great weekend we had. The speakers, the round table discussions, the music, the networking, the craic were all first rate. Especially great was seeing so many first-time attendees from Los Angeles and the Pacific Northwest across the continent to the Maritime Provinces of Canada and everywhere in between. As for you, Kansas City Irish Fest fan, I promise you'll see the fruits of our Michigan weekend on Labor Day weekend, on our stages and around the grounds.
I could type for hours giving you details of the weekend, but I won't. A lot of it falls into the "you had to be there" category I'm afraid. Some of it falls into the "you wouldn't believe me if I told you" category. But I will mention a few highlights.
The Cowtown Crew did us proud as president Davey Colgan gave an informative and interesting presentation on the value of smart phone apps for festivals (capped by a picture of me with a howler monkey sitting on my shoulder. Tell you about that in the pub sometime) and VP Craig Duke expounded on the value of establishing whiskey tastings. KCIF ED Keli Wenzel discussed relations with Irish and Scottish government and arts authorities and how better to leverage them, and the next conference in Scotland in 2014. There were great speakers on topics as varied as leadership succession planning, economic impact info gathering, and working with local, regional and national tourism entities. Reps from our friends in Milwaukee, Ohio, Michigan, New York, Wisconsin and elsewhere shared their vast knowledge in presentations and round table discussions. Saturday morning were treated to a Bloody Mary breakfast bar on the Muskegon festival ground complete with a fly-over by a pair of WW2 vintage aircraft, followed by a great trolley tour of that beautiful area. Friday and Saturday nights were capped by music showcases and they were amazing. I'm not in a position to offer details just yet, but with any luck you'll be seeing some of the acts we saw here in KC as early as this year.
But truly, the best part of these events is the networking, the after-hours chat, the sharing of ideas, stories and laughs over pints. This is a great bunch of folks and I'm so proud and grateful to call them friends. As you plan your summer's recreation, please consider visiting some of them at their events.
Lastly...seriously, Chris? A feckin' fly-over??