Irish Fest offers family-friendly fun

Kilts, whiskey and shamrocks  oh my!

New Orleans celebrated its fourth annual Irish Fest from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 16 at The Kingsley House in the heart of the Irish Channel.

The crowd for the family-oriented event on the vast lawn of the Kingsley House was sparse for the duration.

The Irish coffee offered at the event, however, soon livened up the moods of festival attendees. One attendee went so far as to tell the Arcade that it was, “the best Irish coffee I’ve ever had.”

In addition to the crowd-favorite Irish coffee, other alcoholic beverages were available for attendees to enjoy, including blueberry-flavored beer on tap.

Appreciators of all things Irish came together to celebrate the rich history of the Irish in New Orleans. Many attendees sported green clothing, shamrocks and cups of Guinness.

The event, presented by the Irish Fest New Orleans Board, kicked off with live music from Vali Talbot and a Red Hair and Freckles contest, which was followed by the ultimate kilt runway contest.

There was, however, a disappointing scarcity of Irish food available for purchase. Most of the vendors offered traditional New Orleans or American food.

New Orleans locals participated in the 2017 Recipe Contest which added an Irish culinary element to the celebration. Lauren Bonnell took first place for the appetizer section with her Potatoes O’Graty. For the main course, Griffin Schlamp won with his Tomato Irish Stew. Nicole Henke’s Whiskey Apple Brack took home the gold for dessert. 

Local Irish musicians played throughout the day, including Stephen’s Green, The Poor Clares, Van Hudson and Friends, and the New Orleans Celtic Harp Ensemble. Crowd members were encouraged to sing along as performers led them through traditional Irish songs.

The most festive section of the day was the Ceili, in which Richie Stafford and Friends, with Emerald Accent and others, led participants in a series of traditional Irish folk dances. Dancers formed lines, circles or other groupings that merged and switched throughout the dance. 

If attendees were looking for a more skilled group of Irish dancers to watch, though, a contest was held for those trained in the act.

Feet tapping, splits even and heels high, contestants from a very young age impressed the crowd with their talent, strength and quick steps. The dancers, solo or in pairs, competed in front of three judges and an audience in the gym of the Kingsley House.

Irish Fest was a relaxing Saturday afternoon, the answer for students looking for a little Emerald Isle with a side of New Orleans.

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