Don your finest kilt: Largest celebration of Irish culture in southwest, biggest cultural event in DFW to showcase all things Irish in Dallas’ own Fair Park through unmatched volunteer effort
DALLAS, TX – When the 31st Annual North Texas Irish Festival, presented by the Southwest Celtic Music Association, makes its return to Fair Park March 1-3, 2013, it will celebrate the many contributions made by the Irish in the U.S. with its theme “Along the Lines,” highlighting three significant contributions that Irish immigrants brought to America: their music, literature and willingness to work constructing the railroad system. In true Irish spirit, more than 500 volunteers from all over North Texas – many Irish, many not – will pull together to create the beloved tradition that is the North Texas Irish Festival, one of the most celebrated and largest festivals of Celtic culture in the U.S. today – not to mention the largest cultural event in DFW.
“This festival is an annual tradition for many residents of North Texas,” said John Hebley, managing director of the North Texas Irish Festival. “Many do not know, however, that this event is put on annually by hundreds of dedicated volunteers who give days, weeks and months of their time to make this happen every year. They do it for the love of Celtic culture and to contribute to the mission of the Southwest Celtic Music Association, making dance and music scholarships possible for children to continue the Irish legacy.”
The North Texas Irish Festival features top Irish musicians and dancers from around the world and a variety of cultural presentations on 13 stages at Fair Park. After all that music and dancing, hungry appetites can be satisfied with Irish stew or Shepherd’s pie from one of the many food booths featuring traditional Irish cuisine, and wash it down with a glass of traditional Irish Guinness. On the Tom Thumb Culinary Stage, cooking presentations from top chefs will modernize Irish classics with new flavor twists and cook with traditional Irish ingredients like Guinness, presenting fare that attendees can then taste. Whiskey tastings, blacksmithing demonstrations, archery in a Celtic village, Gaelic football and horse displays allow attendees to experience Celtic culture.
Urchin Street children’s activities include children's entertainment, a petting zoo, safety demonstrations and art activities. Storytellers (those blessed with the Blarney’s gift of gab!) will weave tales of Celtic lore on the new Schanachie Stage. Attendees can peruse for a new pet with the largest gathering of animal rescue groups in North Texas. Tens of thousands of visitors to the North Texas Irish Festival in Fair Park will surely proclaim do dheagh shlàinte, "to your good health!”
National headlining performers at the 31st Annual North Texas Irish Festival include: Arvel Bird, Barra MacNeils, The Black Brothers, Brian McNeil, Brock McGuire, The Elders, FullSet, Grand Dérangement, Sliabh Notes, and Patrick Ball.
Featured performers include: BEHAN, Beyond the Pale, Blue Fiddle, Don Gabbert, 5 Second Rule, Flashpoint, Hares on the Mountain, Irish Rogues, Jiggernaut, Jigsaw, Jim Flanagan, Killavil, Legacy, Michael William Harrison, Murder the Stout, Needfire, North Texas Caledonian Pipes & Drums, Poor Man’s Fortune with Beth Patterson, Sarah Dinan, Scatter the Dust, The Jig is Up!, Threadneedle St., Tinsmith, Tröen, Trinity River Whalers, Tullamore and Vintage Wildflowers. The music goes on all weekend and encompasses myriad approaches to Irish music.
The colorful traditional and modern Irish dancers with their hand-embroidered dresses and fast foot- tapping rhythms will delight audiences at the festival. Some of the finest dancers in the country are located in local schools in the DFW Metroplex, including the well-known Emerald School of Irish Dance, the Shandon School of Irish Dance, the McTeggart Irish Dancers and the Maguire Academy of Irish Dance. Performers from these schools will delight audiences with continuous performances on the dance stage. In addition, there will be dance workshops throughout the weekend, and everyone is encouraged to get into the spirit of Ireland at Saturday night’s Dance “Ceili,” a traditional Irish party led by a certified Irish Dance instructor.
The North Texas Irish Festival brings together a wide variety of exhibitors, workshops, plays and demonstrations. The Tom Thumb Culinary Stage will feature high-profile chefs demonstrating ways to make Irish cuisine in your own home (with free tastings for the audience!), and whiskey tastings will whet whistles for the over-21 crowd with a little Irish magic. Booths selling fish and chips, shepherd’s pie and Irish stew abound to offer a hands-on taste of Ireland.
The popular Celtic Village will return to feature archery and local Scottish clans doing demonstrations. Urchin Street will offer a special place where kids can find entertainment, education, play and fun, including crafts, music, dance, storytelling, magic and mystery. Storytellers -- or “seanchaí” in Gaelic – will perform traditional Irish stories in the way that the Irish learned of their history for hundreds of years on the new Schanachie Stage devoted to this historic craft. The Spirit of the Celtic Horse and several other equestrian shows, blacksmithing, archery and other amazing demonstrations will be performed in the Marine Square and Fountain Plaza area of Fair Park. And not to forget that the Irish do love their “sport,” hurling and Gaelic football will also be featured.
Attendees can peruse for a new pet with the largest gathering of animal rescue groups in North Texas. Last year alone, almost 100 animals found new homes through the NTIF. Simply wander the festival to see dozens of Irish Wolf Hounds, Irish Setters and dogs of all breeds, many of whom will be dressed up for the occasion in kilts and other Irish garb.
Hours, Admission and Location
Gates open on Friday evening, March 1, at 6 p.m. Hours are 6 to 11 p.m. on Friday, March 1; Saturday, March 2, from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.; and Sunday, March 3, from 11:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.NTIF.org. Admission is FREE on Friday from 6 to 7 p.m.; $10 after (50% off coupons online at www.ntif.org). A one-day ticket is $20 on Saturday and $15 on Sunday at the gate, while a two-day ticket is $25 and a weekend pass is $30. Discount tickets will be available at area Tom Thumb stores. Children 11 and under are FREE when accompanied by adult family member. Tickets for seniors over 65 or current military members (with valid military ID) receive $5 off. Dogs are allowed in on a short leash with a $1 requested donation which will go to help the animal rescue groups on-site at the event. Leprechauns (in full ceremonial dress and carrying pot of gold) are FREE.
Parking is available in and around Fair Park, or attendees can take the DART Green Line (no coincidence there!) to the front entrance of Fair Park and the North Texas Irish Festival. Detailed directions and parking tips are available at www.ntif.org. The public can call 972-943-4616 or visit www.ntif.org for more information or to volunteer to work at the festival.
About the Southwest Celtic Music Association The Southwest Celtic Music Association (SCMA) is the producing organization for the North Texas Irish Festival (NTIF). More than 600 volunteers will help in organization, promotion and execution of this year's festival. The first such festival was held on March 5, 1983 at the legendary Nick Farrelly’s Lounge on Oak Lawn and was billed as the First Texas Céili. This event was so popular that it has continued every year since on the first weekend in March as the North Texas Irish Festival. Shortly after the first festival, the all-volunteer Southwest Celtic Music Association was formed to promote the study, performance and preservation of traditional Celtic music, dance and culture. In 1984, the event was moved to Fair Park and its name changed to the North Texas Irish Festival. The Southwest Celtic Music Association is a 501(c)3 corporation headquartered in Dallas, and serves a five-state regional area. The organization maintains a web site at www.scmatx.org.