I start to get really excited the weekend before. I start listening to my favorite Irish bands and look through my old photos that remind me how much fun I have every year. This coming weekend, July 24th-26th, we celebrate the United Irish of Dayton’s Celtic Fest!
The first Celtic Fest, held in 2002, gave birth to one of the largest and best festivals that Dayton has to offer. The Celtic Fest is the last free festival held in downtown Dayton. Throughout the year, fundraisers known as Celtic Crushes are held at various small businesses. Patrons go and support local vendors and the businesses donate a portion of the bill to help fund the Celtic Fest. Also, festival goers will see donation buckets that allow them to do their part to support the Celtic Fest.
Four stages allow festival goers to be immersed in Celtic culture. Four headliner bands: Gaelic Storm, Scythian, Socks in the Frying Pan and We Banjo 3 plus a handful of local and regional bands provide lots of great music. Band merchandise is sold at the United Irish of Dayton Stage, so if you hear a band and love them, you can purchase their latest CD, T-shirt and other novelty items.
For those wishing to really connect with their Celtic roots, you can see dancers, jam with pipes and drums and even dance in a Céilí! Celtic Academy of Irish Dance, Dwyer School of Irish Dance and the McGovern Ceili Dancers provide dancers of all age groups. Miami Valley Pipes and Drums give a lively performance that stir the Celtic soul and Éamonn de Cógáin calls out the dance moves so that you get to become a participant in the Irish Céilí!
In addition to the awesome music that fills the streets, multiple merchandise and food vendors are present to satisfy your tastebuds and shopping desires. Traditional fare along with regional food provide ample dishes to try. Jewelry, clothing, pottery, bar ware, home goods and trinkets are just some of the items available to be purchased from local vendors and those from across the pond.
Want more? Various activities such as the cultural exhibits and demonstrations, Parade of Kilts, Rainbow’s End Children’s area, Celtic Breakfast, 5K Run/Walk and 10K Run, Beer Tastings and a Celtic Bike Ride are happening all weekend. Also, all are welcome to attend the Gaelic Mass held Sunday morning at the United Irish of Dayton Stage in the new Five Rivers MetroParks Pavilion. Irish dancers and pipes accompany a Catholic mass service held in both English and Gaelic.
And no Celtic Fest would be complete without beer. This year’s main beer will be Murphy’s Irish Stout which has been consistently brewed in Cork, Ireland, since 1856. The main beer trucks will offer: Murphy’s Irish Stout, Murphy’s Irish Red, Boddington’s Ale, Stella Artois Cider and Bud Light. The craft beer truck (adjacent to the Pub Stage & Wright Flyer on Monument Ave) will be offering: Bellhaven, Fuller ESB, Highland Gaelic Ale, Thirsty Dog Irish Setter, Goose Island Summer Shandy, Blue Point Toasted Ale and Bud Light. For those of you who are disappointed that Guinness and its sister beers will not be offered, I ask you to keep an open mind. The listed beers are a comparable selection to what has been offered in years past. This will give you a opportunity to try a different beer while you enjoy the festival! A new addition to the festival this year is a pairing of the Celtic Fest with Uber. First time Uber users get a free first ride up to $20 with the code CELTICFEST15 (download the app, create account, and use the code). The designated Uber pick up/drop off location is at the corner of Monument and Jefferson. This is a great way for you to enjoy the festival and get home safe and sound!
The United Irish of Dayton’s Celtic Fest will happen rain or shine. For more information about the festival, you can visit: www.daytoncelticfestival.com or check out their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/DaytonCelticFestival. If you are interested in becoming a fellow volunteer, you can email your request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to Diane Leo, who introduced me to this whole Celtic Fest thing, this will be my seventh year volunteering! Look for us: riding in the gator, me squeezing my bike horn to part the crowds, delivering pop, water and ice. Hope to see you all there!