Ask the organizer of any festival if things ever get crazy in the planning or producing their event. But you might want to be more than an arms’ length away when you ask!
Yes, things get hectic. But organizers of festivals like the Peoria Irish Fest have friends in the business. Namely, the Association of Irish and Celtic Festivals group. It was founded nearly 20 years ago, by Ed Ward of the Milwaukee Irish Fest.
So what impact could there be if some of us started working together rather than independently?
It’s wonderful! At our annual conference, we share best practices … success stories of things that went right, and nightmares caused by less-than-perfect ideas. We trade contact information to help each other throughout the year. Speakers addressing behind-the-scenes functions such as performer hospitality or corporate fundraising round out the days.
But the best part happens after the sun goes down. A showcase of artists play for us – up-and-comers, players from former groups but now on their own, or talented locals – they perform their hearts out, vying to be hired for the next festival season. All ages and all nationalities are on display. We never know what we’re going to hear!
A few examples from this year are:
Doolin – A family band from France with virtuosos on several instruments.
Steel City Rovers – A Canadian quintet with great stage presence.
Blarney Castle – A group from Kalamazoo, Michigan that impressed beyond their years.
Colin Farrell Band – A multi-national trio with a solid sound.
Searching for talent is a never-ending process. But, with the help of friends in AICF, we work hard to bring a fresh mix of sounds to the Peoria Irish Fest every year.