Sunday, August 30, 2015

Rules Reviewed

Irish Fest 2015 opens on Friday! I bet you're as ready as we are to light the fuse on our Funlucky 13th annual party. But first, just so we're all on the same page, let's have our annual review of the rules, shall we?

1. I have a big, dumb dog named Dugan. You know where Dugan will spending Irish Fest weekend? Elsewhere. Not even us bigwigs can bring our furry best friends on to the Irish Fest grounds. Dogs, cats, ferrets, wolverines...pets of any kind need to sit this one out, with the exception of legitimate service animals. And it goes without saying that the spider monkey you trained to make beer runs does not fall into the "legitimate service animals" category. It also goes without saying that I'd like to borrow that monkey after the fest.

2. Bring your appetite and thirst. Do not bring coolers, thermoses, bags, flasks, goatskins, bottles or cans filled with outside food and drink. We'll have truckloads of great food of every stripe and oceans of refreshing beverages. You've got enough to worry about without having to pack a weekend's worth of food. Leave it at home for the monkey.

3. As per Missouri state liquor laws-or at least our interpretation of them, underage (under 21) drinkers or people attempting to purchase alcohol for those under 21 will be branded, fitted with shock collars and unceremoniously tossed out on their arses. Plus we'll make fun of the way you were dressed after you're gone. We also reserve the right, and will not hesitate to suspend service to patrons who we believe have had enough. And those good looking, talented, fun-loving volunteer bartenders will not give you free beer no matter how nicely you ask. So don't. Be nice, drink responsibly, don't drink and drive.

4. Bring a comfy lawn chair if you like. Bring a small bumbershoot to protect your pale Celtic hide from the blazing Midwestern sun. Bring a blanket to spread on the lawn. Don't bring a giant canopy, tent or patio umbrella. They tend to block the view of that guy behind you and he looks mean.

5. Your admission ticket is good for the whole day and night that you use it. Come and go as you like. You can get a stamp at the gate to return all day. Maybe pop over to your hotel room for a nice shower. Seriously. You're drawing flies, Sweaty McStinkerson.

 6. You know what's fun? Those little Razor scooters. And skateboards. And bikes, unicycles and roller skates. Fun, fun, fun. You know where they're fun? At home. You may not bring any of them onto the Irish Fest grounds.

7. If you're running for office, circulating a petition, raising money for the Committee To Save The Balinese Beer Fetching Monkeys, or passing out brochures proving that the president was actually born on the planet Zorgon 7, don't do it at Irish Fest. No printed materials may be distributed on our grounds without our permission, which we are not going to give you. We're cranky like that.

 8. If you happen to be a tiny baby and ride around in a stroller, bring that bad boy along. Bring your favorite grown-up to push it. If you ride around in a wheelchair, we've got a whole staff of people here to help you navigate the terraces. Elevators are available in the parking garages and we have a ramp to make getting from street level to the Terrace Stage level easier. No wheelchair drag racing please, at least until I've had a chance to place a bet.

9. If you have foolishly decided not to heed my advice about booking a discounted hotel room and insist on driving to and from Irish Fest every day, we've got thousands of covered parking spaces right here on the site, including designated handicapped parking. And parking as always is free.

10. If you are looking for something you can't find, have a question you need answered, or a problem you need solved, ask us. The place will be literally crawling with friendly, knowledgeable staff and volunteers. Our highly trained staff have never yet been posed a problem they couldn't solve. Try 'em if you don't believe me. Our senior staff members will be in bright orange shirts with the word "STAFF" in big letters on the back, a big tag around their necks that says "STAFF" on the front and in many cases a big tattoo that says "STAFF" on places you'll have to ask really politely to see. They live to assist you. They are bred and trained from birth in special camps just to make your Irish Fest weekend a pleasant one. Our hundreds of other volunteers and committee members in appropriately labeled white shirts will be everywhere waiting to help make your stay with us the best it can be. Our board of directors in stylish green shirts (see what we did there with the green white and orange shirts?) will be surveying the scene from their upper floor suite, eating bonbons, getting foot massages and sipping cognac...fetched for them, incidentally, by trained monkeys. Don't bother them. They're important people, Paddy. Me, I'll be in the whiskey tent. Or lying prone near it.

11. No weapons, concealed or otherwise are allowed inside our gates or inside the Crown Center complex. And yes, that means you too, Mr. Giant-Sword-Carrying-Mug-On-a-Belt-Kilt-Guy.

12. Above all, have fun. We do this for you. Well, you and the free beer at our monthly meetings.

It's going to be another great year!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Rip Van Regan

Well, hi! How the time do fly.

As the 3 of you (hi Mom!) who check this blog on a regular basis might have noticed, I'm been on hiatus. All summer. I don't know why. Boredom, burn out, busy, baseball, all of the above. I've also been coerced into moving over the Irish Fest Facebook page where I've been providing content for the past few weeks. But as my buddy Laren "Newlywed" Mahoney, Irish Fest's social media maven pointed out when I told her of my plans to leave old Tir na Blog lie fallow for good, sometimes there are long posts that don't work in the FB format and that this blog might be the repository of that sort of thing. So I'll put stuff up here once in awhile, especially now that we're entering Fest Week.

Speaking of which, I hope you're as excited as we are. We've got a great lineup and lots to see and do. The weather is going to be great and we hope to see you all at Crown Center when we swing the big green gates open Friday afternoon.

Get ready! The countdown has begun!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Whiskey Saves Lives

Sure we knew that already, didn't we? Another good reason to sign up for one of our whiskey tastings at Irish Fest. Tickets on sale soon. We open in 113 days!

Monday, May 04, 2015

Celebrate Because Why Not?

You may or may not know that outside of Irish Fest I am an employee of a major greeting card concern, which shall remain nameless except to say that it rhymes with Ballpark. That company is in fact Irish Fest's landlord, the owners of the beautiful Crown Center complex we call home. "Ballpark", the company I work for is often accused of inventing holidays so we can subsequently sell cards and other supplies to celebrate said holiday. That is urban legend. "Ballpark" has never, ever invented a holiday.

But I'm going to.

I'm declaring today, May 4th, to be Tell Your Friends How You Feel About Them Day. Well, that's a little clunky, isn't it. Maybe Friendship Day? No, that's sounds vaguely Maoist. Or North Korean, like it would be celebrated with mandatory smiles and parades with flower-bedecked tanks.

How about this: Be Friends, Wow Day. We'll call it BFW Day for short.

This is an easy holiday. No need to buy gifts. No need to put a decorated tree in the house. No need to hide eggs, carve faces in squash, roast large birds or wear green. No need to even buy a card (sorry, boss). Just maybe take a second today to reach out to a friend or two and tell them thanks for being your BFF, your drinking buddy, your confidant, your partner in crime, your amigo, your wing man/woman, your whatever. Tell them thank you for the laughs in good times, the support in not-so-good times, the memories, the hangovers, the road trips, the whatever. Tell them you love them.  

Why today? Because you can. And how great is that? You may not always be able to.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015


Sorry for shouting at you. I'm a little excited.

Advance tickets are on sale now for the 13th and greatest Irish Fest yet!

Big News For Kids and Their Employees...I Mean Parents

I'm a veteran parent myself. I've been in that crazy business for 22 years. So I'm excited for all my brothers and sisters in the Mom and Dad Club as Irish Fest announces some very good news.

Beginning this year, mom and dad will no longer be pulling out the wallet every time young Colm or wee Aoife want to bounce in the jump house, climb the rock wall, or careen down the slide like a lunatic. Gone are the days of the $10 wrist band, gone are the days of feeling nickeled and dimed keeping the kids entertained. From our official press release:

“Parents asked for this, and we listened,” says Keli O’Neill Wenzel, the fest’s executive director. “Our new kids’ ticket means that children can bounce, slide, climb and play to their hearts’ content…and mom and dad can leave their wallets in their pockets.” 

Children’s tickets for ages 3 – 12 are just $5 and will include all of the free activities they’ve had  access to in the past as well as to the many inflatable adventures the Kansas City Irish Fest offers including bounce houses, slides, rock climbing and obstacle courses that used to require the  purchase of additional tickets or wrist bands. Tickets for patrons 12 and over are $10 for Friday entrance (buy three, get one free, online only) and $12 in advance, and $18 at the door for Saturday and  Sunday  admittance. A weekend pass will be available again for $30 with advance purchase  online. Tickets will also be available for purchase in August at all local HyVee stores. Infants and toddlers 2 and under are free.

In addition to general admission tickets going on sale, the ever-popular Snug passes will be available for purchase online. The Snug is a members-only club that anyone can join. It features a private area with an amazing view of the Boulevard Stage. Pass includes drinks, food, shade, seating and  private bar and toilets.  Limited  number of day and weekend passes are available. Snug membership costs $75 for Friday, $100 for Saturday and $250 for a weekend pass.

Tickets for Irish Fest are on sale NOW and we open in 149 days!

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

New For Mass In 2015

The Catholic Mass at Irish Fest has become one of the most beloved part of our annual event. But like everything in our business, things can get stale and in need of a little refreshing now and again. We think we have just the thing.

You thought changing water into wine and raising the dead were cool? Wait until you see Father Horan celebrating Mass at Irish Fest this year.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Gaelic Storm Brewing Thursday

Don't forget, your St. Patrick's Day celebration doesn't end at last call tomorrow night.  Irish Fest Gaelic Storm blows through town on Thursday night at Harrah's Casino. If you miss this show, I'm really not sure we can be friends any more.

Get tickets here.

The Week, 6

Okay, now pretend it's Sunday. We'll be caught up shortly, promise.

So, how was Mass? Dinner with Ma tonight? Lovely. Happy Sunday.


The KC Irish Fest band with arguably the silliest name ever (nipping at your heels, We Banjo 3), Socks In the Frying Pan make a return trip to KC this year. SITFP is another band we found at TradFest last year and they built themselves a loyal fan base here during their inaugural tour in 2014.

Brothers Shane and Fiachra Hayes on accordion and fiddle/banjo and accompanied by Aodán Coyne on guitar and vocals come to us from beautiful Clare. If you saw them last year, I know you're fist bumping me in your mind now. If you didn't, put these great young trad players high on your list of must-see bands for this year.

This was my favorite musical momant of last year...

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Week, 5

Pretend it's Saturday.

Hi! Happy Saturday! Let's meet another 2015 Irish Fest preformer, shall we?

Today's pick, a man who has quickly become a local favorite. You know him, you love him, he rejoins us in September:


The Offaly man has earned a big fan base here in Cowtwon, and with good reason. He's an engaging performer, a talented singer-songwriter, and an all around good fella. He'll have a brand new record by the time he gets here. so we can look forward to old favorites and great new stuff. Let's have a listen.

The Week, 4

Sorry! I'm behind! I was all caught up in parade prep the last couple days as well having a glorious day yesterday as Irish Fest marched in the great Brookside St. Patrick's Day Warm Up Parade. But I'm back with some rapid fire band announcements to get all caught up. Pretend it's Friday.

Today's band is a newcomer to our stages, but we're confident that you're going to add them quickly to your list of al time faves. All the way from Scotland, welcome Daimh.

"Dàimh (pronounced "Dive") are based in Lochaber in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland; an area as much renowned for its scenic beauty as for its rich musical and cultural heritage. A long‐established favourite at folk festivals in Scotland, Ireland and across Europe, twice nominated for Folk Band of the Year at the Scots Traditional Music Awards, Dàimh are also regulars on BBC television.
Recent line‐up changes have seen the introduction of Gaelic champion, Griogair Labhruidh, on vocals and Uillean Pipes, adding the depth and power of his commanding vocal performances to an already phenomenal instrumental arsenal of bagpipes, fiddle, mandolin and guitar."

Sound good? Damn right it does. Let's meet the lads.

Thursday, March 12, 2015


Within the hour my number one son will be taking off from Newark to spend his spring break with  my number two son, who's matriculating at the University Of Limerick. On Tuesday the pair of them will be in Dublin for St. Patrick's Day.

To my friends in Ireland, please: be careful. These two unsupervised knuckleheads should be considered very dangerous.

The Week, 3

A little over a year ago, Irish Fest Park Stage manager Kelly Dougherty and myself attended TradFest in Dublin to scout bands to bring back home to you. You saw some fruits of that "labor" last year in the performances of Socks In The Frying Pan, Moxie and FullSet.

There was another band we saw a lot of that week, both on and off the stage, that we just loved. They were unlike anything we'd seen or heard and were taking Irish music and setting it on its head. We wanted to book them. We tried to make it work. But the financial challenges of bringing a 10 piece band over from Ireland proved too difficult to conquer. We were sad. Kansas City would never know the joy we'd known in Temple Bar we'd thought.

Enter Cultural Ireland. This wonderful organization exists to promote Irish arts worldwide and through a very generous grant from them, that band we discovered 13 months ago in a Dublin pub will be taking our stages in Kansas City in just 176 days. Ladies and Gents, meet...

Baile an Salsa.

Ten musicians from eight different countries who found each other in Galway in the beautiful west of Ireland to make musical magic. Vocals in Irish, English and Spanish. Baile means home in Irish and dance in Spanish and they could not have chosen a better name. If this music doesn't get you dancing, you should probably go home. I could try to describe the energy, the fun, the spirit, the boundary-crashing inventiveness of a Baile an Salsa performance, but I'd fail. Maybe some video samples will do the job.

Appearing all three nights of Irish Fest, 2015, We're so excited: Baile an Salsa!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Week, 2

You're probably not over the excitement of yesterday's announcement that Gaelic Storm will be returning to the Irish Fest stages Labor Day weekend, so I apologize for the strain I'm about to put on your heart. But the hits keep coming.

Back to Irish Fest in 2015 is 2013's breakout band We Banjo 3.

The Scahill and Howley brothers make up this group which neither numbers three nor only play banjos. Discuss.

Name aside, these lads made fast and lifelong fans in Kansas City on their inaugural visit. If you're one of them, I know you're thrilled with this news. If you missed that show, don't make that mistake again. Welcome back, boys!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Week

One week from today is of course March 17th, and that can only mean one thing: St. Gertude of Nivelles' Day! Oh, and also St. Patrick's Day which has a way better parade in most cities.

So in honor of those saints and your good self, we're going to be announcing a 2015 Kansas City Irish Fest performer every day of the week until the 17th! And we're kicking it off with a bang today:

Gaelic Storm.

Is there a bigger name in the Irish music world? No. Easy question. These guys and girl bring it and bring it every night. We're so excited to have them back in KC in just 178 days. Only guess what? You don't have to wait until Irish Fest to get your GS fix.

Gaelic Storm, live in KC March 19th at Harrah's Casino Voodoo Lounge! Doors open at 6:30 PM, show starts at 8:00, 21 and over only. Tickets are available right now, right here!

See you there!