This weekend has been a great time for Irishmen and Irish-enthusiasts alike in Milwaukee, because the Henry Maier festival grounds have been hosting Irish Fest. The festival began Thursday, Aug. 15 and closes today, Sunday, Aug. 18.
The festival utilizes the many stages to provide constant entertainment throughout the day from Irish dancers to Celtic rock bands. For those who would rather walk around than stay to listen to bands, there are also several shops selling Celtic jewelry, sweaters, instruments, and more. There is also an array of Irish food such as whiskey chicken sandwiches and Guinness stew, not to mention the Guinness, Jameson, and other Irish alcoholic beverages.
Saturday the 17th was a particularly eventful morning at Irish Fest as their sports program included a 5K Run/Walk to benefit The Arthritis Foundation. This 5K began at 10 a.m. and went along Milwaukee's lakefront to Irish Fest where participants received a free admission, a commemorative t-shirt, and free refreshments. Proceeds supported the Arthritis Foundation research into finding an answer to the nation's most common cause of disability.
Milwaukee native Kelly Delaney and her friend Heidi Garrison participated in the 5K and afterwards said,
It's a great run because it's flat, but it's fun. There's no pressure so if you want to go fast you can go fast, if you want to just walk around the lake you can do that too.
There is an element for the more competitive types, as they place the first three finishers in each age group. Delaney and Garrison aren't what one might consider the typical Milwaukee Irish Fest visitors, however, since they are both from Delaware. Delaney and her family are originally from Milwaukee, and every year she comes from Delaware and her family comes from Virginia to enjoy the weekend at Irish Fest. It's been 27 years since the family has lived in Wisconsin, and yet this annual tradition lives on.
This only being Garrison's second year at Irish Fest, she says,
It's just a great time. It's very laid-back and lot of good food and beer. The whole festivals.. there's nothing like that on the East coast. There's not this type of environment.
One of the final performances at Irish Fest today is the duo's personal favorite, The Scattering. This annual closing event is a gathering of many of Irish Fest's musicians playing together in one combined session. It's not uncommon to have fifty or more musicians on stage together for this event. The Scattering begins at 9 p.m. on the Aer Lingus stage, bringing Irish Fest to a close.
For more information on Irish Fest, please visit http://irishfest.com. For more information on the Arthritis Foundation's 5K to Summerfest, visit http://runtoirishfest.kintera.org/faf/home/default.asp?ievent=1068068.