PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The last weekend of August in Peoria means three days of Irish fun at the riverfront.
The 42nd annual Peoria Irish Fest features three stages with Irish rock bands, traditional Irish bands, Irish dancers and storytellers. There are five bars, Irish food and drinks, vendors and an area for children called “Wee Folk.”
“Basically, forget about your problems and come down here and be with friends. Enjoy the music, look at the cultural exhibits, and learn about the Irish in Peoria,” said event chair John Martin.
Martin said 20% of Peoria is of Irish descent, so the festival offers a way to connect with Irish culture.
“It has been a long way in getting the Irish heritage back into the people of Central Illinois… We’re a large population, this and the [St. Patrick’s Day] parade are two ways that we show the community the Irish are here, the Irish are in every facet of your life,” he said.
Martin described the Irish culture as caring, fun-loving and very family oriented. He expects a turnout between 7,000 to 10,000 people.
“One of the reasons we got into this was to develop the sense of the pride of the Irish in this area. I think the number of people that come to this every year, year after year, the families that are involved in it, its surely accomplished developing and keeping pride of the Irish alive,” he said.
The festival takes place Friday from 4 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., Saturday from 12 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
On Sunday, if you wear a kilt, you get in free!