Monday, August 26, 2013

How Come?

I, like everybody who volunteers their time and energy at Irish Fest, work hard to make this party happen. And I, like everybody who works here get asked loads of questions as we get into this home stretch before the fest.

There's one we all get asked a lot and I'm going to take a stab at answering it. That way when I get asked I can just say "read the blog." It'll free up all kinds of time.

Here's the question in a nutshell, though the wording varies:

"How can you call yourself an Irish festival when you're not serving (insert assorted Irish beer names here)?"

I could get into a long discussion about marketing and British ownership and South African production of "Irish" beers and how the number one selling beer in Ireland is Budweiser, etc.  But I won't. Instead I'll talk about the words and the philosophy that make up our name and its impact of our beverage menu. Bear with me.

Some history: It may sound silly now, but when we started this thing back in the fall of 2002, there was actually quite a bit of discussion as to what to call it. It had been suggested to us that we should call it something like "The Midwest Irish Fest" or the "Heart Of America Irish Fest" so as to be regionally inclusive and whatnot.

Now, we're regionally proud, but to a man and woman among the festival founders, we love our city with energy and ardor bordering on the obsessive. We love local. And to us, in the end it could be nothing but Kansas City Irish Fest. And we take those first two words just as seriously as we take the last two when we assemble this thing every year. For example, our heritage display this year focuses on Kansas City fire department and the role of Irish Americans and Irish born in its proud history.

That local pride is a big reason why we proudly serve, among other fine products, Kansas City's hometown beer. Always have, since day one and at our two parent festivals as well. It's no exaggeration to say without Boulevard's annual support Irish Fest as we know it wouldn't exist. Is Boulevard brewed in Ireland? Nope. Were you born in Ireland? Probably not. You're both welcome at Irish Fest.

Again this year we will have plenty of ice cold Boulevard beer–including their fantastsic stout–as well as crisp, cold great-tasting-less-filling Miller Lite, white and red wine, Mike's Hard Lemonade, Bailey's Irish Cream and Magner's Cider and Jameson whiskey...from Ireland. And of course lots of soft drinks and water.

So come see us, come thirsty. I'm sure we'll have a whistle wetter that you'll like no matter what your ancestry.


Anonymous said...

Nicely put! Let's hear it for KC!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

If you are so proud of the local flavor why don't you serve Dark Horse Whiskey? You'll allow the Irish whiskey but not the Irish beer?

I would love to see the stats that back up your claim that Budweiser is the #1 selling beer in Ireland. I don't believe it. Before I visited Ireland I would have believed your claim that it's all hype regarding "Irish" beer. But having witnessed it first hand, you are dead wrong. Every drop of Guinness in the world originates in Ireland, there is no fancy marketing to make that up, it is an Irish staple. The Irish people are very proud of their Guinness beer and take it very seriously.

This is all about the $$$$$ that Boulevard pays to be the exclusive beer of the KC Irish Fest. That's all you have to say.

My boycott of the KC Irish Fest will continue as long as it is a pretend Irish festival. It ignores a very important aspect of Irish life.

Danny Regan said...

Guinness is a fine beer and I've certainly enjoyed more than my share. But you're dead wrong to say that "every drop" originates in Ireland." Guinness brews in 49 facilities globally. That's a fact.

I'll let our Dublin born president, our Belfast born VP and the many other native Irish on the staff know they're running a pretend Irish Fest because we don't serve a brand of beer that you have an admirable, if kind of baffling loyalty to. They'll be interested to hear it.

Sorry to hear about the boycott. I hope you enjoy it.

Mike O'Reilly said...

First might be good to also remember that Boulevard is not the exclusive beet of the Irish Fest. Pretend and all as the weekend is we also serve Miller Lite and had you not boycotted the festival you could have seen many fine bands on the Millet Lite stage even!

As an honorable Irish man I would somewhat understand your point regarding the drinking of Guinness in Ireland, if you had also considered the fact that most alcohol drank in Ireland, is not consumed in a bar. Sadly bars are closing at a rapid pace in Ireland but Guinness is popular in bars as most people prefer it from the tap, something not many house parties are set up to accomplish.

Also the drinking of Guinness tends to be location and age dependent. The 12 (we start young)-30 year olds of Ireland much prefer either a Bud or Heinken as their drink of choice. Maybe to make this a real Irish Fest we need to serve those here?

IFAD said...

There's a lot more to the Irish Fest than beer anyway. There's Irish dancing; the Culture Stage, which features workshops on Irish music, Irish literature, Irish language, Irish travel, and various speakers who are actually from Ireland; the Culture Café, where you can Skype with actual people from Ireland; Comedy shows with real Irish comedians; and our fantastic genealogy area. There are plenty of bands from Ireland as well. Sounds pretty Irish to me.

Anonymous said...

I just saw this post and I feel compelled to comment, so here goes:

Not all Guinness is brewed in Ireland. According to their website, Guinness is brewed in nearly 50 countries.

To boycott this fine festival because Guinness is not served is just plain silly.

Also, not using your name in the post makes me wonder if you are really boycotting the festival. If you believe in something enough, you should use your name. :)