05 - Cleveland Irish Heritage Festival

30.) Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival – Berea – July 21, 2012

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Over 30 years ago, a man named John O’Brien Sr. founded the Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival in order to both present and preserve Ireland’s traditions, history and cultural aspects.

In 1982, his dream became a reality when the first festival took place at a wooded location with an attendance of more than 3,000 people.

But, as attendance increased each year, the small venue became too small

…which is why it’s now at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds.

This location had a definite effect on the festival because it broke the festival into compartments.
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When you first walked in, for example…

…there was a building designated for native dogs

…where festival goers could meet them…

…pet them…

…and purchase Irish dog stuff.

This building, called the Celtic Heritage Hall…

…taught about each of Ireland’s 32 counties…

…and a lot of other topics that included…

Guinness

…Irish festival foods (my favorite)…

…and President Obama’s Irish roots.

But the most frequented buildings…

…joined music stages (Dermot Henry)…

…with plenty of Irish merchandise.

Vendors sold items ranging from candle holders and piggy banks…

…to tie dye garb and Hello Kitty shirts.

But there was also Celtic clothing…

…cool door knockers…

…hoodies you won’t ever catch me wearing…

…and various genealogical services.

These two buildings also had booths held by organizations such as…

…Irish Northern Aid alongside with the Ancient Order of Hibernians

…the Cleveland Right to Life

With so much in these two buildings, it was sometimes difficult to navigate through the crowds (especially the building with the Emerald Stage).

Fortunately, elsewhere on the festival grounds…

…kids could burn off extra energy at the jump houses…

…or head to the Arts & Crafts building…

…to work on their creative abilities…

…(although they sometimes just made green messes on the floor).

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For those seeking a more peaceful escape, there was the Abbey Hall Theater…

…where festival goers could read in wide open spaces…

…and maybe even enjoy a show or two.

Actually, the Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival really excelled in shows…
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…offering six music stages with great bands that included…

Mary’s Lane

…and Ronan Tynan.

It almost made me overlook…
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…that among all these food vendors and products…

…the majority of them were non-Irish.

Sure, there were three Irish food vendors (not including drinks and snacks)…

…selling from the traditional fish and chips…

…to fun Irish egg rolls and nachos…

…but I really felt there could be more…

…especially when non-Irish food vendors, like Cracked Mobile Foods

…could alter their menu to make it both Irish and fun.

If there were more of these vendors brought in, or even existing vendors that incorporated Irish-esque products…


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…there wouldn’t only be more grub to better accompany the mass quantities of beer…

…it might have made me happier when dealing with the food ticket system that I’ve learned to despise.

 

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