It is festival season. There are a lot of music festivals out there, and many cultural celebrations that mean so much to so many people. Milwaukee, Wisconsin has been a hub over the years of different music and cultural festivals to take place. Over time, Milwaukee Irish Fest has become one of the largest celebrations of Irish culture in the world, and it holds a special place in my heart.
Milwaukee Irish Fest hosts more than 250 acts on seventeen stages. Throughout the three days that the event takes place, over 130,000 people attend.
I look forward to this weekend like I look forward to Christmas. All of my family gathers from all across the Midwest for the event that we have waited for all year. It is so much more than just a collection of fiddles, claddagh rings or curly wigs. From the minute you are welcomed warmly with a "Fáilte," at the gate, you immediately feel a part of something bigger. There is an energy on the grounds that you can’t find just anywhere.
My heritage has always been something that I am very proud of. Not only is it the history of my family and how we came to be in the place we are today, but it is a part of my soul. That there is a certain part of my home that lives inside of me. But beyond that, Irish Fest is not about your bloodline. It doesn’t matter if one is 100% Irish or 0%, what matters is that we can all come together and celebrate this culture—a culture that feeds on camaraderie and being merry. That is the energy that you feel when you walk through the front gates. When you watch the young Irish dancers. Or when you all pack in to watch Gaelic Storm once the sun goes down.
Even the worst dancers will get their feet tapping. Even the least melodic person will be clapping in beat with the rest of the crowd. I think the best part of Irish Fest is the unity felt. There is truly nothing like it.
Never was there a happier event than Irish Fest. I look forward to it every year, and every year it brings so much joy to the city of Milwaukee.