The twentieth annual Colorado Irish Festival is in the books, and as always, featured some excellent examples of Irish music. There were two main stages this year, the big main stage, and a smaller pub stage. Several local bands were featured, but organizers removed the Cultural stage, which had featured the acoustic, more traditional bands. This meant that most of the music was more in the Celtic rock style, popular with young party-goers, but without much of the history and tradition which has characterized this festival in the past.
In fact, the festival seems to have abandoned much of its educational purpose in favor of merchandising and attracting a younger audience with little knowledge of the culture and history of Ireland. Many of the long-time supporters of the festival stayed home this year, and those who attended expressed disappointment in the lack of any traditional Irish beer and the cancellation of the workshops and presentations that made the Cultural Village so popular. Fortunately, the Wales, Ireland, Scotland, England family history group (W.I.S.E.) put on some nice presentations to partially fill that gap, but the organizations who put up their booths in the Cultural Village seemed to be experiencing far less traffic than ever before.
Despite these deficiencies, the music was outstanding, and featured a number of local bands, some of whom even got to play the main stage. I was not able to hear all of them, but saw quite a few. Here are some highlights: