Organizers for the Irish Fair of Minnesota have announced dates for this year’s Fair, Friday through Sunday, August 12-14 on beautiful Harriet Island across the mighty Mississippi from downtown Saint Paul.
“Harriet Island will come alive with music, dance, comedy, and all kinds of Irish culture curated for our guests” said Tom Whelan, Chair of the Irish Fair Board of Directors. “From one end of the Island to the other, we’re setting things up so that visitors will get a real taste of Ireland.”
With most of the public vaccinated and boosted, organizers are confident that pent-up demand for what Irish Fair delivers will mean an even larger audience this year.
And, entertainers who weren’t able to cross the Atlantic last summer will be in full force at Irish festivals across the US.
On seven primary stages and situated on pop-up stages around the Island, visitors will see and hear several big-name bands and over 100 different Minnesota-based bands and troupes, plus dancers representing 14+ area dance schools.
Returning to Irish Fair this year We Banjo Three, the Wild Colonial Bhoys, Aoife Scott, a reunion of the Hounds of Finn and perennial favorites, Gaelic Storm. Coming to the Irish Fair for the first time are The Friel Sisters, Anna, Sheila and Clare, young traditional musicians born and brought up in Glasgow with their family roots firmly entrenched in the Donegal Gaeltacht. Also joining us will be Scotland’s very popular Skerryvore who’ve played to big crowds here in Minnesota but will be new to Irish Fair.
The Celtic Kitchen, located between the Pavilion and the River has been renamed Celtic Corner and will be home to several cultural activities including, interactive food demonstrations, theatre performances and for the first time at Irish Fair, a visit from the Real Irish Comedy Tour.
Kids and families will have plenty to do at Irish Fair this year. Both Saturday and Sunday mornings, kids will march around the Island in the Wee Ones parade. There will be opportunities to decorate cookies, learn to speak some Irish, participate in relays and races in Croke Park and join in a new scavenger hunt.
We’ve barely scratched the surface…
From the Livestock Department — The Native dogs will be back this year and will also be featured in daily parades. They will have their own shaded quiet space adjacent to Celtic Corner between the Pavilion and the River. And we’ll see the return of sheep and their pet border collies, which will be seen in displays of their various behaviors.
We’ll have plenty of food for our attendees with fish and chips, hamburgers/hot dogs and other fast foods, ice cream and many, many other Irish-oriented entrees and snacks prepared by local restaurants and vendors.
For those interested in Irish Fair’s beverage palette, Guinness will be back and complemented by a few other locally brewed beers. Wild State Cider (Duluth) will introduce their most popular flavors at the Fair and we’ll feature Irish whiskey and other spirits from O’Shaughnessy Distilling Co (Keeper’s Heart), Quintessential Brands (Dead Rabbit) and Red Locks. Other providers will be announced in the coming weeks. Plenty of non-alcoholic beverages will also be available.
Fans can gather at Croke Park to see daily demonstrations of Irish Hurling, Camogie, and Gaelic Football. And athletes of all ages can participate in Irish Fair’s Zero-K, a race that can be run in both directions and takes little, we mean, no training at all. There’s an extra fee, but our racers get a beer and a t-shirt for their valiant efforts.
Sunday Mass will be back this year. 10:15 a.m. on the main stage, likely officiated by Fr. Dan Haugan, current pastor of Holy Spirit Church and coordinated with assistance from the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Knights of Columbus. A special collection will be taken to raise funds for new trees on Harriet Island in a new partnership Irish Fair has with the Saint Paul Parks Conservancy.
We welcome our guests for one or two days or for the entire weekend. Special VIP packages are also available. All ticket information is online at IrishFair.com. And, if guests want free admission, they might consider volunteering at Irish Fair. We are working to fill 1500 volunteer shifts. Volunteers receive a daily pass, t-shirt and snacks.
More information will be forthcoming, and the Irish Gazette will be publishing the Fair’s map and list of all activities in a coming issue.
Remember, you don’t have to be Irish to join us Harriet Island. Think of Irish Fair as your St. Patrick’s Day celebration in August!