Milwaukee Irish Fest

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The Mid Gate of the Henry Maier Festival Park, during Milwaukee Irish Fest 2005
The Cultural Village during Irish Fest

Milwaukee Irish Fest (locally known as Irish Fest) is a yearly ethnic festival held at the Henry Maier Festival Park, on the Lake Michigan, USA, every third weekend in August. More than 130,000 people attend the Fest each year to take in nearly 250 acts on 17 stages. The four-day festival in downtown Milwaukee started in 1981. Irish Fest is the largest of the ethnic festivals held at the Summerfest grounds which report attendance,[1] and holds claim to the largest celebration of Irish Culture in the world.[2]

The 2015 festival will be held August 13–16, 2015.

Festival highlights include:

  • performances from local Milwaukee Irish Dance troupes,
  • music from nearly 250 artists from around the world, sung in English and Irish,
  • stages for Céilí dancing,
  • an area to learn Céilí dancing,
  • celebrations of Irish sport and culture,
  • Liturgy for Peace and Justice held in the Marcus Amphitheater on Sunday morning.

The annual closing event is the Scattering, a gathering of many of the festivals musicians playing together in one combined session, with fifty or more musicians on the stage at one time not uncommon.

Irish people the world over come to see the festival from as far off as England, Scotland, Egypt, Pakistan and Ireland itself. Many of Ireland's news stations will send reporters over to cover the festival.

Irish Fest celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2005. During that year's fest the new Celtic Roots stage was added, and the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, attended the festival.

Each year Milwaukee Irish Fest honors an Irish family name (clan) with families attending the festival from all over. Some of the Irish clan names that have been honored:

2014 - O'Loughlin; 2013 - Gallagher; 2012 - Higgins; 2011 - Fitzgerald; 2009 - O'Donoghue; 2008 - Carroll; 2007 - Gogin/Goggins; 2006 - Toomey/Twomey (O'Tuama); 2005 - All festival Volunteers (in honor of 25th anniversary of Irish Fest); 2004 - Murphy; 2001 - McAteer; 2000 - Delaney/Delany; 1999 - Cummings/Cummins; 1995 - Conarchy/Conachy; 1987 - Mangin.

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