Thursday, January 22, 2015

Retreat This Weekend

Saturday morning, this coming one, is the annual Board Retreat wherein all the men and women and Craig Duke who have served on the Irish Fest board of directors gather to discuss how we will continue to advance, improve and not completely bollix up the great event entrusted to us. It's an impressive thing to be part of, let me tell you. Actually, last year I disclosed many of our secrets and I won't make that mistake again, boyo. I still have nightmares about the reeducation camp I was sent to.

Anyway, if there's a burning issue about Irish Fest that keeps you up at night and it's been your dream to have all the mover and shakers in one room to address to your concerns and listen to your ideas, I encourage to you get out more. Make take up a hobby.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to drop my ceremonial robe off at the cleaners.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Ceili Saturday!

It's Thursday and I know what you're doing. You're sitting there this chilly morning with your tea wondering where I'll be spending my Saturday night this coming weekend. Well, wonder no more. I'll be at the Driscoll School Of Irish Dance ceili.

The ceili is a fund raiser for what will be as I understand it, the only feis in the state of Kansas, the upcoming inaugural Sunflower Feis, to be held this April. The ceili is Saturday from 5:00-10:00 PM out south at the Lenexa Community Center, 13420 Oak Street. Tickets are $25 and that covers your food and drink. Live Irish music, performances by the Driscoll dancers (including my lovely niece Julie, full disclosure) and ample opportunity for you to get up and get your jig on as well.

Come on out and warm up with a great night of Irish entertainment.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Fáilte Roimh, Sarah agus Matthew!

January 1st, 2015 begins the long and we're sure distinguished board of directors careers of our two newest leaders, and both are long-time Irish Fest veterans: Sarah Walsh and Matthew O'Callaghan.

Sarah first joined Irish Fest when she and her husband Barney, himself a former director and president, founded and ran the erstwhile Site Host committee. In recent years, Sarah has co-chaired our Volunteer committee. She is, it goes without saying, a hard working and dedicated festie. She is also a bright, sunshiney beam of light that makes Irish Fest a more fun place to be for anybody lucky to come in contact with her. That is nothing but good news for you, fest -goer. Please welcome Sarah to a well-deserved place at the board table.

Did you or someone you know get murdered or otherwise crimed-upon at Irish Fest? If your answer is no, you may want to thank our other new director, Matt O'Callaghan. Matt comes to the board from leading the Public Safety committee and he has been stellar at that job for years. After training his replacement and taking a year as a civilian, the call of the festie life was too strong to ignore and he returns to join the board of directors. Matthew is also a Marine, a Husker, and an all-around great guy. He's going to be a huge asset to the leadership team of the fest.

Welcome to both!

Monday, January 05, 2015

Slán Go Fóill, Craig agus Mindy

The 1st day of this month and new year brought to a close the terms of two of our festival directors, President Craig Duke and Secretary Mindy Johnson. Both joined the board back in 2010.

Craig, our first director and president from the north of Ireland, is a Kansas City (Kansas) deputy fire chief in his day job. He assumed the role of president tin his final year on the board and lead with his trademark good humor and charm. While always quick with a joke and a laugh, Craig took his duties seriously, especially in his year as president. As a firefighter, Craig took special interest in keeping out patrons and staff safe over out long weekend and he was a critical leader during the weather emergencies we experienced the last couple years. Not one to let the grass grow under his feet, Craig recently joined the board of directors of the Kansas City Irish Center where He'll no doubt provide leadership, insight, and groans at his jokes. All of us at KCIF are grateful to Craig for his 5 years of service to the board.

Mindy, the Small But Mighty, leaves the big shamrock-shaped board of directors table after five years, the last spent as board secretary–a tough job because it meant she had to transcribe what Craig was saying in board meetings, without the help of a translator. Mindy came to us from back stage at the big beautiful Boulevard Stage, which she has managed for years with her lovely sister Marcia, where she plans to return. From from embracing retirement pool-side at the old directors home, Mindy is going right back to work and will be representing Irish Fest in Dublin later this month at the Temple Bar Trad Fest, finding new bands to bring back to Cowtown for future fests. We're lucky to have had Mindy's leadership these past five years and luckier still that she's not going anywhere now that they're complete.

It was an absolute honor for me personally to get to serve with Mindy and Craig during both their first and final years on the board, and all us offer them our heartfelt thanks for jobs well done.

2015

It's been 80 days by my calculations since my last post here. That's the gestation period of an otter. And I must say, the hue and cry from Tir na Blog's fans for its return has been deafening. Why, no fewer than one person (also, no more than one person: specifically, my mother) has asked me why come the hiatus.

Well, since Mom asked, a few reasons. One, fatigue. It's hard coming up with stuff half-way interesting to say about a 2-and-a-half-day annual event, let alone all-the-way-interesting, all year long. Two, Facebook. I don't indulge in the Facebook juggernaut myself but I know that I'm in the vast, vast (though proud) minority. And Facebook eats blogs, supplementing its regular diet of man-hours and brain cells. Just the way it is. Three, most of Irish Fest's patrons, even the most dedicated ones, aren't really thinking about us in the off season anyway, so readership plummets among that demographic that did not give birth to me. Makes it hard to get up a head of steam to post.

But it's a new year and we do have things to talk about, don't we? So I'll try to get the get the old blog muscles stretched out once in awhile. See how that goes. Sure, it'll make my mammy happy anyway.

If you support or decry this effort, please let me know. Getting comments that don't involve the marketing of erectile dysfunction medications are always welcome and appreciated.

Happy new year, kids.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Win!

We're on a winning streak here in Cowtown. Don't even get me started on our beloved Royals, American League champs.

No today we're talking about Irish Fest, winners in this year's Visitors Choice Awards as best ethnic/heritage festival!Whoo hoo!

Thank you to all our out-of-town fans for voting for us!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Wandering Mind, Mapped

News that one of the doomed ships of the Franklin expedition has been found in Canadian waters brought to my mind a lovely song about that ill-fated voyage, called Lord Franklin. Thinking of that song made me recall what is for me at least, the definitive version of it, sung by one of the most haunting and beautiful voices to come out of Ireland, ever, that of the too-soon-departed Micheál O'Domhnaill. And thinking of Micheál made me think, with a little sadness, that some of you might not know of this amazingly talented musician, who was taken from us in 2006. And that thought made me want to correct that. And the desire to share this talent with anyone who might have been denied the pleasure up to now made me want to bring you this film about the life and music of Micheál O'Domhnaill. And that is why I'm not getting much work done.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

WINNERS!

Our 2014 Irish Raffles winners are, for the 12th year in a row, not me! They are these lucky people:

1st Prize-Trip to Ireland: Hannah Ivanuska of Roeland Park, KS
2nd Prize- Boulevard Tasting Party: Matthew Carmichael of Holt, MO
3rd Prize- Snug memberships for 2015: Jenni Hodge of Overland Park, KS

Congrats to all!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Phone Free Info

True story: when we started Irish Fest in 2003, I was forced, kicking and screaming, to get my first cell phone to communicate with my fellow board members during the event. I hated it. So I sympathize with those of you who have been less than thrilled about our decision to go paperless this year and abandon the printed program for a (really cool) smart phone app.

For those of you who don't have a phone or don't have a phone that will run the app or who just would rather have a piece of paper in your hand, we have you covered. Over on our website you'll find both a printable schedule and a printable map of the grounds making it easy for you to not wander around in circles shouting "WHERE THE HELL IS EVERYTHING AND WHAT TIME DOES MY FAVORITE BAND PLAY???" which between you and me, makes you look a little like a crazy person.

Now tech nerds and Luddites are united at last in peace and harmony. And sure isn't that what Irish Fest is all about?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

How To Get The Wheres And Whens

Several years ago, Irish Fest went green when we started a festival-wide recycling program. It's been a huge success with your help and continues to grow. Wait until you see our new recycling centers, sponsored by KCP&L, at this year's fest.

Of course, being Irish, we can never be green enough, so this year we're taking a huge step further, and again, we need your help. Beginning this year, rather than recycling paper after the fact, we're not going to use the paper in the first place. When you arrive at the fest next weekend, you'll notice a huge change: we will not have printed programs. Rather, today* we launched our brand new, state-of-the-art smart phone app. I have it and it is very cool.

Complete schedules on there? Sure. But sooo much more. You can build your own itinerary, get alerts to what's happening when, find out where your favorite food and drink is, easily share photos with your friends across social media, follow an easy to read map around the grounds, find band bios, get the lowdown on things to keep the kids busy, and lots, lots more.

We know not everybody has a smart phone and not everybody will be taking advantage of this great tool. I'm looking at you, Mom. But fear not. Maps will be positioned around the grounds and each stage will, as always have their schedules posted. And of course, we will have an army of friendly volunteers who will be happy to help you with anything you need.

We care about our planet at Irish Fest. After all, most of our staff are natives of Earth. And if we can keep it a little greener, it seems like the least can do.

Search you app store for KC Irish Fest and get our free app. Then start planning your weekend. We open in 8 days!


*available for iPhone now, Android phones early next week.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Hotels Sold Out! Boo! New Hotel Offers Deal! Yay!

Our two anchor hotels (I wonder why we call them that?) The Westin and The Sheraton at Crown Center are 100% sold out for Irish Fest weekend, proving that old adage "if you snooze you lose." Or in the past tense, "if you snost, you lost."

However, all is not snost...uh, lost. Enter the Mariott, literally and figuratively. The Mariott Downtown, a lovely hotel just 1.7 miles from the front gate of Irish Fest, is offering a special Fest rate of  $126, and like the rooms at the Westin and Sheraton that you waited too late to get, includes two Irish Fest tickets. Ask for the Irish Fest rate when you call. And call you should, because what have we learned, Paddy Procrastinator? Hotels. Sell. Out. And you are not staying at my house.

Mariott Downtown, 200 W 12th St Kansas City, MO 64105. (816) 421-6800

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Grants Open

Here's a joke I made up: What would you call it if Irish Fest gave a cash award for the study of redheads in Irish history? A Ginger Grant! Get it? Ginger Grant? The movie star from Gilligan's Island? Ha ha! I kill me.

Well, our grant advisory board may not go for that particular concept, but as of right this minute we are accepting applications for 2014 Kansas City Irish Fest Grants. Money may be awarded to both qualified individuals and 501c3 organizations. You can get all the details on eligibility on the Grants page of our website. Applications will be accepted until September 30th and successful grant recipients will be notified in early December.

Sadly for me, Irish Fest staff and directors aren't eligible so I'll have to find alternate funding for my research project "Kansas City's Irish Pubs: Which Pours the Best Pint of Stout and Which Will Give Dan Regan The Most Free Research Samples?" Maybe Kickstarter! That potato salad fella got 55 grand! Who's in??

Live your Irish dream...and let us help pay for it. Apply today!