The 19th annual Irish Fest returns in person after a virtual fest in 2020
The 19th annual Kansas City Irish Fest took place over Labor Day weekend. After a one-night “virtual” festival last year, organizers felt it was important to get back as close to normal as possible in the middle of a pandemic. This was not an easy task.
Travel restrictions limited many of the bands that travel from Europe for the summer festival season. Efforts were made to expand the footprint of the festival in order to allow for more social distancing. Masks for guests were encouraged and masks for staff and volunteers were enforced. Backstage passes were extremely limited and the usual after-hours gatherings were not encouraged this year.
It rained, but that didn’t change anyone’s mood at the event. It’s just “good Irish weather,” said people laughing as they ran for cover. Over three days, more than 150 acts scattered across seven stages for an outside festival with an estimated 90,000 ticket sales made.
Long-time festival headliners The Elders returned to honor their friend and band member Steve Phillips, who died due to complications with pulmonary fibrosis lung disease last year. The rousing 30-minute set ended as Steve’s family and friends on stage joined the remaining band members on stage to sing Men of Erin as a final farewell.
The festival joined with 90.9 The Bridge radio to host the Mix Tape Concert again this year. The concert is an annual crowd favorite featuring a variety of local and traveling musicians to perform covers from other bands—allowing both Irish and non-Irish musicians to jam together for a night. This means you get Calvin Arsenia accompanying Danny Cox on harp before he vocally blows up the stage with his version of “Take Me To Church.” Celtic Storm guitarist, Steve Twigger provided acoustic guitar and sang with Kansas City Jazz greats.
It was a craic!