Friday, August 27, 2010

True Story of Chicago's Celtic Fest - It Was Developed by Willie Winters


The inaugural Celtic Fest Chicago took place September 21-22, 1997 on Columbus Drive and Jackson Boulevard in Grant Park. Its lofty goal was to educate the public on Celtic music and culture from the 7 Celtic nations. Those nations are Ireland; Scotland; Isle of Man; Cornwall; Wales; Galicia, Spain; and Brittany, France. Headliners the first year included John McDermott, La Bottine Souriante, Altan, Leahy and Carlos Nunez. All true but there is more.

Willie Winters worked for James "Skinny" Sheahan who was the City of Chicago Director of Special Event, when Chicago knew how to throw a party. Once Sheahan and Winters departed Festivals seemed to turn into a PBS Pledge Drive. For a Taste of Chicago, Willie once put together the great Tom Jones and Chicago's Mambo Express headed by the great Victor Parra! That was a knockout!

For Celtic Fest, Willie Winters went out and attracted each of the brilliant talents listed above and more - The Great Big Sea of Canada and the Bing Brothers of North Carolina. Willie studied the music of the Celt and brought it home to Chicago. Now?

Willie brought in the great Donal Luny who is presented here -


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History of Celtic Fest Chicago
The inaugural Celtic Fest Chicago took place September 21-22, 1997 on Columbus Drive and Jackson Boulevard in Grant Park. Its lofty goal was to educate the public on Celtic music and culture from the 7 Celtic nations. Those nations are Ireland; Scotland; Isle of Man; Cornwall; Wales; Galicia, Spain; and Brittany, France. Headliners the first year included John McDermott, La Bottine Souriante, Altan, Leahy and Carlos Nunez.

The festival was unique in that it highlighted different Celtic instruments such as the Harp and the Uilleann Pipe, which is the Irish bagpipe worked by pumping air into it with an elbow.

Celtic dancing has been a big part of the festival since it began. Local dance schools showcase their students on their own separate stage. Fest goers were introduced to ceili dancing and eagerly participated.

The bagpipe parades through festival grounds have been a tradition at the event since the beginning. The general public is invited to parade along with the pipers.

Over the years, we’ve added the Gathering Tent, now programmed by our Presenting Sponsor, FlyNovaScotia.com; a Celtic Cultural Tent, Sheepherding demonstrations in Butler Field each day, which has proven to be a very popular family destination; a Men in Kilts Leg Contest; a Coffee & Tea Garden; an upgraded children’s area featuring musical performances and new for 2009 is a traveling exhibit titled: Come Back to Erin: Irish Travel Posters of the 20th Century.

2 comments:

Omnibus Driver said...

Make sure you get to see Seanachai Theatre Company's production of The Weir at IAHC. I saw it last night, and it's fabulous.

fauxnick8tor said...

Waste of tax payers money. would rather that money be spent on police officers in the neighborhoods.

the sponsorship and ticket sales do not cover the costs of the event. the taxpayers bail out this event every year.