April 17, 2024
Annapolis, US 58 F

3rd Annual Annapolis Irish Festival Draws More Than 20K

The weather didn’t cooperate on Friday as more than 100 vendors and nearly 20 musical acts were setting up for the 3rd Annual Annapolis Irish Festival. But the show went on for Friday night’s free preview concert for the main event to be held on Saturday.  More than 2,500 (initial estimate) braved the drizzle and rain to see Danny Burns, The Rogues, The Screaming Orphans, The Gothard Sisters, and Albannach perform abbreviated sets. The Friday night preview was a free concert sponsored by the Maryland Renaissance Faire.

But the luck of the Irish was out in full force on Saturday when the gates opened at 11am under sunny skies!  Throughout the day, more than 20,000 (again estimated) people entered the festival sampling Irish and traditional food, shopping amongst the vendors and listening to world class Celtic and rock music.

Of course, it is not a festival without a little rain, and rain it did. Shortly after the Dublin 5 set on the main stage, a storm rolled in drenching the clothes (but not the spirit) of the festival goers who were waiting to hear the hottest Celtic band in the country–Gaelic Storm.

We caught up with festival organizer Eddie McGowan as he was running from stage to stage to make sure all was going well. McGowan was thrilled with the attendance and said, “Friday was a little disappointing, but now, just look at the place–we’ve killed it!”

The first Annapolis Irish Festival was held in 2011 and drew nearly 10,000 people which firmly established the desire for an Irish Festival in the area. Last year, doubled the first year. And this year, the Annapolis Irish Festival likely drew in excess of 25,000 for the two days and has established itself as a world-class Irish Festival–the only one on the East Coast.

McGowan plays in the band Dublin 5 (formerly The Rovers) and each member (all Annapolis area residents) decided to put this on for the community and each is involved in a specific aspect of the festival. Frontman Ray Murphy handled the vendors, fiddle player Jennifer Garmin coordinated the kids’ area, drummer Kevin Shook handled the talent coordination during the festival, percussionist Jim Martin handled band coordination and emcee duties, and McGowan handled publicity and generally putting out fires.  All being local, they understand the need to give back to the community and last year’s event saw $30,000 donated to the Chesapeake Bay Trust, Wellness House of Annapolis, and Hospice Of the Chesapeake. This year, the same charities will benefit and they have added St. Jude’s Children’s’ Hospital as well.

All in all, despite a little bit of rain, and the kamikaze beetles that seemed to take over the fairground, everyone left last night with Irish eyes a smiling.

Eye On Annapolis will be producing a video of the day–stay tuned. But to see more photos and video clips from the day, please visit The Annapolis Irish Festival Facebook page.

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