Celtic Fest celebrates halfway to St. Pat’s
By Annie Alleman For Sun-Times Media September 27, 2012 5:10PM
The Ploughboys will be at Will County Celtic Fest Sept. 29. | Courtesy of Will County Celtic Fest
Will County Celtic Festival
♦ Sept. 29
♦ St. Joseph’s Park, 700 Theodore St., Joliet
♦ Tickets, $5 (12 and under free)
Updated: September 28, 2012 3:38PM
Mic Brophy envisions a Celtic festival that will one day travel throughout the county it is named for.
But for its second year, the Will County Celtic Fest is staying in Joliet, although it has moved to a new location.
“Joliet’s the county seat, but we’ve got members all over the county,” said organizer Brophy. “We’d like to, once we have it established, have it in New Lenox or Peotone or Shorewood. Move it around and spread the wealth a little bit. Bicentennial Park was an excellent venue last year, but we thought we would mix it up.”
The fest, which serves to promote the cultural heritage and history of the Celtic people, is from noon to 11 p.m. Saturday at St. Joseph’s Park in Joliet. It will include Irish music and food, Celtic crafts and vendors, children’s activities and an appearance by Indy Light racer Peter Dempsey.
There’s a new date, as well, just about halfway to St. Patrick’s Day, in fact.
“We did that because there’s so much going on in the summer — different festivals and street things — we thought we would try to catch the end of the year when we’re not competing against so many different things,” he explained.
“Plus, the Celtic New Year is Oct. 31. You think of Celts, you think of rainy weather and not so hot. Last year, we did it in July and it was like 105 degrees. You don’t really want to drink Guinness when it’s 105 degrees. We’re hoping the weather will be a little cooler and more up our alley.”
Fest-goers can look forward to “a really good lineup of bands” he said, as well as excellent food and craft vendors.
“The Joliet Area Historical Museum is coming back with their Irish banners and information on the Irish involvement in building Will County and the digging of the canals,” he said. “This year we’re doing a Celtic dog show, so you can see the different dogs that come from Scotland, Ireland, Wales; the different breeds that are came from the area.”
Children’s activities will include a small petting zoo that will feature farm animals, harkening not only to Will County’s agricultural roots but also the Celtic areas that are strong agricultural areas, he said.
Kids can also get their faces painted, enjoy a magic show, hop in some inflatables and play bean bags.
When you get hungry, grab a plate of authentic corned beef from Kirby’s Corner of Manhattan. Or if you only ear corned beef once a year and this ain’t the time, there will be pizza from Aurelio’s and frozen goodness from Sweets and Treats and Ranch Frostie of New Lenox.
In addition, the fest will be home to the Will County Open Feis, an official Irish step dancing competition, he said. Check in begins at 8:30 a.m. and the contest kicks off at 9 a.m.
“It’s open to everyone,” he said, regardless of school affiliation or formal instruction. That means if your granny taught you the Irish jig, come on out and give the contest your best shot. The feis organizer, he said, is an accomplished Irish dancer and judge at many competitions.
“If there’s time, she said she would be happy to give the (dancers) some pointers,” he said.
Unlike last year, there will be no rugby demonstrations, as the competition season is underway and the area teams are playing league games that day.
Over on the entertainment stage, local singer John Condron kicks off the music at 1:15 p.m., and the Band of Brothers Bagpipe Band will perform at 1:15 and again at 4:30 p.m.
Dancers from the Keigher Academy of Irish Dance will perform at 2 p.m.
Hailing from Milwaukee, the band Reilly will serve a hot plate of noisy Celtic rock at 3 p.m.
“They are one of the best Irish bands around; they are really fantastic,” he said. The band has several albums under their belt, including 2008’s “Kick Ass Celtic Christmas.”
“Our entertainment lineup is just excellent,” he said.
The Ploughboys play at 5:30 p.m. Cutthroat Shamrock goes on at 7 p.m., and Detroit’s The Kreellers close out the fest at 9 p.m.
“The Kreellers are just awesome,” Brophy said. “It’s going to be a great time.”
The fest aims to offer something for everyone, he said.
“If people want to see some culture, we’ve got dancing, we’ve got pipers, we’ve got the historical museum and we’ve got cultural vendors,” he said. “It’s going to be all things Celtic, and all things fun. We’ve got cold beer, great food, great people and an all-around good time.”