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!

Friday, March 06, 2015

The Colm Before The Strum

Last weekend we kicked off the holiday season in grand style at the Irish Center's great annual event Winterfest. The fun–and the funny–continues as we get closer to the big day, with a comedy performance by one of the funniest men in Ireland, Colm O'Regan. He also has a hysterically funny last name.

Part of The Irish Kings of Comedy tour, Colm will be appearing one night only at Kansas City Irish Center in Union Station, a week from today, Friday, March 13th. The show starts at 7:00 and tickets are $10 at the door.

Colm is the author of  three bestselling and very funny books about Ireland as seen through the prism of the formidable figure of the Irish Mother–"The Books of Irish Mammies." They sprang from the equally successful @irishmammies twitter account which Colm began in 2012. He now has more than 160,000 followers making it one of the top 40 accounts in Ireland. His comedy festival appearances include the prestigious invite only Montreal Just For Laughs, the Kilkenny Cat Laughs, Electric Picnic and many, many more. He has played all over Ireland and the UK and even as far away as Cape Town, Tokyo and Osaka and appeared on The Late Late Show.

Fun fact: Colm hails from the bustling metropolis of Dripsey, Co Cork, recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as being home of the world's shortest St. Patrick's Day parade. Here are a couple samples. Don't miss this show!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Carswell & Hope

One of the great bands performing at Winterfest this weekend is Lawrence-based Carswell and Hope. Tim Finn did your homework for you and has the scoop on these great Irish Fest alums. Check out his profile here.

Winterfest Saturday

12 degrees. That's the temperature in Cowtown as I write this. Twelve. Fahrenheit. This coming weekend will bring more cold, maybe some snow.

Now, there's two ways to react to conditions like that. One: you could wrap yourself in a blanket, sit on the couch, sip tea, watch bad TV and complain about the weather. Fun quotient: zero. Or two: warm up the car, head to warm Drexel Hall, stow the coat, grab a pint, greet your friends and laugh right in winter's big fat frosty face. Fun quotient: off the charts.

If you're made of the stout stuff I think you are, you'll choose number two and I'll see your smiling face Saturday at Winterfest, the annual St. Patrick's Day season kick-off party hosted by the good people at the Kansas City Irish Center. This year, it's the biggest and bestest yet–so big it's moved to beautiful Drexel Hall, right in the heart of Irish KC at Linwood between Main and Broadway. The cost is just $5, and the kids under 12 are free. And check out  this line-up:

Musical performances by:
  • Bob Reeder
  • Eddie Delahunt
  • Scarlet Town
  • $3 Band
  • Carswell and Hope
  • Flannigan’s Right Hook
Dance performances by:
  • Driscoll School of Irish Dance
  • O’Riada Manning Academy of Irish Dance
  • Céilí at the Crossroads
If you really want to do it up, and I think you do, spring for the VIP Experience. That $25 ticket gets you all that great entertainment plus access to food prepared by Irish chef Shaun Brady from The Reserve restaurant and whiskey tastings! VIP tickets are limited to a lucky 100 people. To claim  your spot, buy your VIP ticket online now before they're gone*.

Tell winter exactly where to stick that icicle and join me at Winterfest. Saturday 3:00-10:00 PM.

*A $3 service fee is added to online purchase.