A Weekend of Iowish Shenanigans: Visit Iowa Irish Fest!

A Weekend of Iowish Shenanigans: Visit Iowa Irish Fest!


posted on Friday, July 26, 2019

Does Irish culture pique your interest? Do you have Irish ancestors and want to learn more about your heritage? Or are you just a fan of good beer, good food, and song and dance? If you answered yes to any of these questions then you might just want to check out Iowa’s largest annual Irish celebration, Iowa Irish Fest!

It’s happening right here in downtown Waterloo from August 2-4. Over the 3 day festival there will be a myriad of diverse events. From international musical performances to a rugby tournament, Irish dancers to whiskey classes, and even a 5k, there really is something for everyone at Irish Fest! Their schedule is jam-packed with family fun and Celtic celebration.

Irish Dancers

Irish heritage is prominent in the Midwest and especially in Iowa. In fact, Iowa is the 12th most Irish state in America. The Midwest is home to many Irish descendants because they settled here to work on railroads and in coalmines throughout rural America. If you personally are an Irish-American, then Iowa Irish Fest is a wonderful opportunity for you to learn more about your history and culture. Educational events will be everywhere at the festival and span a wide range of subjects. Almost every day there will be Irish dance workshops, cooking demonstrations, blacksmithing presentations and whiskey classes. Check out the schedule of events to see when you can catch these and other events, like an in-depth explanation of Gaelic football, Irish language for beginners, sheep herding, and traditional music classes. And be sure to catch a traditional Irish-Catholic mass on Sunday. These are just a few of the educational opportunities of the festival.

Bagpipe players

This year’s festival is expanding by 4 blocks, compared to last year’s fest.  In total, Iowa Irish Fest will take up 12 blocks of downtown Waterloo. Hotspots include all 8 entertainment stages, Jameson’s Public House, the Irish market, and both downtown green spaces, Newton’s Park & Lincoln Park. There will be food vendors down Mulberry street and fun for kids in Lincoln Park.

Iowa Irish Fest is put on by the Cedar Valley Irish Cultural Association. Kristina Miller, a member since 2008, says that it was started by CVICA President Jim Walsh and former Mayor Buck Clark as just a small gathering in the parking lot of the Irish pub downtown, Jameson’s. The next year it was organized into a small festival. Since then, this Gaelic gathering has grown exponentially. This year it is expected to bring in over 50,000 people while relying on over 1,400 volunteers. There are 22 bands set to play and over 55 other entertainment acts to enjoy. Miller said that she is most excited to see two of the headliners, Gaelic Storm and Scythian, and is ready to enjoy the fruits of the association’s year-long labors.

For a list of all the events and entertainment, to buy tickets, or to sign up for a volunteer shift, check out their website.

If you would like to see what else is happening in the Cedar Valley, visit our online calendar

Information provided by the Census Bureau, Iowa Irish Fest website and Iowa Irish Fest Treasurer, Kristina Miller.

Written by: Micah McCutchan, Experience Waterloo

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