The Birth of Milwaukee Irish Fest
What originated as the seed of an idea for an event to celebrate and promote Irish heritage, CelticMKE . home of Milwaukee Irish Fest, has emerged into a thriving organization that celebrates the music, culture and history of Ireland during its four-day festival as well as with several outreach initiatives throughout the year.
In the early 1980's, members of Milwaukee's Irish community gathered to discuss opportunities to promote their Gaelic heritage in a city known for its German roots. The idea of a festival, a three-day event to promote Irish culture through music, dance, cultural exhibits, drama and sports, was born. The festival wasn't just an opportunity to feature national and international Irish acts, but also an impetus to showcase local groups that celebrate the rich traditions of Irish music.
Under the direction of Ed Ward, the first Milwaukee Irish Fest premiered in 1981 on a shoestring budget. Volunteers spent months planning the event, incorporating an extensive lineup of musical entertainment and cultural programming. Based on the event's success and overwhelming interest by those in attendance, Milwaukee Irish Fest has come to be known as the world's largest celebration of Irish music and culture.
While the festival only lasts four days each year, the commitment to promote and preserve Irish culture throughout the year has earned Milwaukee Irish Fest national and worldwide acclaim.