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Readers Blog: Notes From The Burbs

The Dangers of Being an Erin at Irish Fest

Irish Fest is Milwaukee's best festival. Of course I am biased as I've always had an unnatural affinity for the 25% of me that hails from the Green Isle and a regret at never becoming one of those cute Irish dancing girls.

Unfortunately I've only made it to Irish Fest twice in the eight years I have lived in Milwaukee primarily because of the poor timing (in my opinion) of weddings hosted by friends and family over six of those years.

The gods smiled on me last night and I finally made it to the Grand Hooley, the opening night of the festival that features an intimate, pared-down version of the fest that gets fully underway today.

There are a few things I love about Irish Fest. For one the weather really doesn't matter. As my colleague Caroline said, "Rain or shine, people come here no matter what." And this weekend's cooler breeze off the lake provides a refreshing feel for the festival grounds and makes you a bit more inclined to purchase one of those yummy cable-knit sweaters for sale.

Irish Fest is also like going to one giant family reunion. They've hit the mark on crafting a familial feel that doesn't feel forced. Last night we met a gentleman from Boston who has been coming to Irish Fest with his family for the past three years and my Uncle Tim has braved high gas prices for four years to drive his F-150 from Detroit to attend a weekend of Irish-ness.

And finally -- it's great being an Erin at Irish Fest. There's a weird pride in seeing your name plastered on signs and T-shirts everywhere, but there is an inherent danger in this as well. No less than seven times in a 15-minute walk across the grounds did I hear my name shouted as though my mom was calling me, causing me to whip my head around, sloshing precious beer out of my cup and almost walking into people in front of me. Dangerous, not really -- just a peril you have to hazard if you're an Erin at Irish Fest.

Irish Fest continues today through Sunday.


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