Irish American Heritage Festival | Music Sidebar | Chicago Reader

Irish American Heritage Festival 

Men in kilts, a mashed-potato free-for-all, and dozens of bands

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The Kreellers, above, don't even have the most Irish-sounding band name at the IAHF

The Kreellers, above, don't even have the most Irish-sounding band name at the IAHF

The Irish American Heritage Festival returns to the Irish American Heritage Center (4626 N. Knox) for its 27th year Fri 7/13 through Sun 7/15. For eight bucks per day you can see more than 100 acts—music, dance, theater, comedy, and more—on six indoor and outdoor stages, as well as partake in a bunch of traditional (and not so traditional) Irish festivities. The festival begins at 6 PM on Friday, and though the evening's music lineup is relatively small—the Kreellers, the Dublin City Ramblers, the Great Whiskey Project, Gerry Haughey, and Fonn Mor—I'd be remiss not to point out the mashed-potato-eating contest at 8:30 PM on the Raffle Stage. On Saturday and Sunday, though, when things get started at noon, the number of bands is truly impressive. Saturday's bill includes the Celtic punk of the Tossers, the traditional bagpipes of the Shannon Rovers, and every other kind of Irish music you can imagine, including Young Dubliners, Finbar Fagan, Paddy Homan & Friends, and the Mickey Finns. Among the acts performing Sunday are the Killdares, Derek Warfield & the Young Wolfe Tones, Chancey Brothers, Nineteen Pints, Fast Eddie & Billy O'Donoghue, Mulligan Stew, and Joe McShane & the Silver Bridge Band. The weekend also offers tons of other activities, all Irish themed, including beer, mead, and whiskey tastings; dance performances; used-book sales; stand-up comedy; and a "men in kilts" contest (the "Kilt King" will be crowned on Saturday). There will be traditional Irish food and drink for sale—and did I mention there's a mashed-potato-eating contest on Friday? For more info and full lineups, see Fairs & Festivals listings by day, call 773-282-7035, or visit


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