Lucky me. Last week I got the chance to attend this year’s Annapolis Irish Festival and it was absolutely brilliant. Each year this annual event is held at the Anne Arundel Fair Grounds in Crownsville, spread out over two days—this year, Friday July 15th and Saturday July 16th. The festival is always a good one as it celebrates all things Irish, and being from Ireland I was super excited to attend this year’s event.
An Irish feast for the senses
The festival allowed folks to see, taste and play in an Irish-inspired setting. There were many different vendors selling lots of Irish crafts, including Celtic sweatshirts and traditional dresses; Kilts, or as they were called, ‘Ameri-Kilts’; leather goods; and hand-crafted jewelry. They even had an interesting selection of cast iron gargoyles that you could hang on your door if desired. Plenty of food trucks rolled up to the festival, out of which they sold amazing Irish and Maryland Fare. Annapolis restaurant Galway Bay served up delicious Irish Reuben Sandwiches with corned beef. Local choices included Maryland crab cake sandwiches, fresh Chesapeake Bay Oysters—delicious!—and others. The festival also provided a fun area for children to play. “Leprechaun Land” featured lots of bouncy castles, face painting, and other family-friendly activities to keep the kids happy and occupied.
Nonstop music and live performances
The festival’s continuous onslaught of live music and other stage performances kept audiences engaged. On three main performance stages, audiences enjoyed a variety of Irish music: traditional Irish music, Irish folk music and traditional Irish rock music. Some of my favorite performances were from Scythian, Carbon Leaf and Poor Man’s Gambit. These bands perform occasionally around Annapolis and you should look out for them as they are fantastic and worth going to see. It had been a while since I heard some real genuine Irish music performed live, and it really brought me back home.
In addition to live music, some of the stages were graced with wonderful Irish dancers who showed off their amazing dance skills. These girls didn’t miss a step even through the heat and humidity, which was pretty intense on Saturday. I was very impressed. Back home in Ireland, the weather is usually a lot cooler and there’s very little humidity, making dancing an easier task.
I had so much fun walking around the hilly fairground fields discovering unique handmade gifts and watching bagpipe players popping up randomly, all while sampling local craft beers and stouts. I didn’t want to leave. I would highly recommend the festival to anyone who has a passion or interest in Ireland, as it really brings the best of what’s Irish to Annapolis. I’ve never seen so many kilts on men, women and children in my life. Recognizing the enormous effort that went into making the Annapolis Irish Festival happen made me proud to be Irish.
Click here for more about the Annapolis Irish Festival and to start planning for next year.
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Photos courtesy of Sinead Harold.