SUMMER 2014 / VOL. 14 ISSUE 2
Irish Festivals

RiverEdge Hosts Irish Festival, Aug. 2

Chicago's biggest summer celebration of the Emerald Isle is taking place on Saturday, Aug. 2 in downtown Aurora, right along the Fox River, complete with bag pipers, step dancers, Irish Open Mic sessions, Irish beer and whiskey tastings, freckle competitions, more contests, and authentic Irish food, beverages and merchants.

Bring the whole family to beautiful RiverEdge Park, 360 N. Broadway in Aurora, for the Fox Valley Irish Festival, an all-day celebration of all-things Irish. The park opens at 1 p.m. Tickets are $10 for ages 15 and up. Children 14 and under are $5. Kids two and under are free.

To purchase, go to, call the RiverEdge box office,
630-896-6666, or visit RiverEdge's satellite box office, the Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd. in downtown Aurora, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday-Saturday. The RiverEdge box office is also open at the park for day-of sales from Noon until show time.

Afternoon entertainment for the adults includes a Jameson Irish Whiskey tasting, Irish beer galore, bean bag games, Gaelic language lessons, a hurling demonstration, St. Baldrick's Foundation, Guinness glass etching, a pop-up Irish gift shop by Irish Sisters in Geneva, the McNulty Irish Dancers, a special visit from the Great Lakes Irish Wolfhounds, and appearances by Irish author Mary Pat Kelly and Irish speaker, author and business humorist Connor Cunneen of Irishman Speaks. 

A children's play area will host a bounce house, petting zoo, games, Irish craft making, face painting and more from 1 to 5 p.m. Children's tickets include unlimited use of kid's area exhibits, bounce house and petting zoo.

When the sun goes down, the kids are welcome to stay, or drop them off at the sitter's and head back for the grown-up portion of the festival.

Kicking off the music at 5 p.m. is Anish, with a lively cutting edge blend of traditional and new wave Celtic. The Bogside Zukes take over at 6:30 p.m. with a traditional-folk-pub sound which combines classic Celtic, bluegrass and old-time music. The Tossers, six South Siders with a Celtic Punk edge hit, will cap the concert starting at 8:30 p.m. with a raucous, joyous celebration of the working class, the motherland and their South-Side roots.

Fox Valley Irish Festival is sponsored by Advanced Disposal, Ballydoyle Irish Pub, Banana Split, Baum Property Management, Dolan & Murphy, I.A.T.S.E. Local 2, Kenny Corn, R.J. O'Neil and West Suburban Irish.
About RiverEdge Park

Chicago and Chicago's western suburbs have a beautiful, new outdoor concert venue to enjoy after last summer's grand opening of the new RiverEdge Park in downtown Aurora - Illinois' second largest city. 

National acts playing RiverEdge this summer include 18th Annual Blues on the Fox headliners Jimmie Vaughan, Los Lonely Boys and Taj Mahal (June 27- 28), Lee DeWyze and 10,000 Maniacs (July 5), Under the Sun Tour with Sugar Ray, Blues Traveler and Uncle Kracker (July 6), Lady Antebellum (Aug. 7), and the That Girl Tour 2014 with Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland, the Indigo Girls and Brandy Clark (Aug. 29).

Aurora's popular Downtown Alive! outdoor music series presents American English for only $3 on August 1. 

Community festivals also will attract all ages to downtown Aurora including Aurora's Fourth of July Celebration, the Aurora Puerto Rican Heritage Festival (July 26- 27), the Fox Valley Irish Festival (Aug. 2) and Roots Aurora Festival (Aug. 31). 

RiverEdge Park is inspired by outdoor entertainment facilities in Chicago's Millennium Park and Northerly Island, and Milwaukee's Summerfest. Anchored by the striking John C. Dunham performance pavilion, RiverEdge features 30 acres of beautiful riverfront grounds, state-of-the-art acoustics and lighting, and a full array of concessions. RiverEdge has a capacity of 8,500.

RiverEdge Park is accessible via Metra's Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) line. Paid public parking is available in the Metra lot, additional private lots surrounding the park and in downtown Aurora just a few blocks from RiverEdge.

All events at RiverEdge are general admission. There will be limited bench seating on and event-by-event basis at RiverEdge in 2014. Guests are encouraged to bring folding bag chairs (shoulder height) or blankets. Some shows like Lady Antebellum and Jennifer Nettles will have standing room only in front of the stage with a designated area for chairs or blankets behind the sound tower. Visit for specifics about each performance.

Food and drink are available for purchase inside RiverEdge Park. No outside food or drink (except sealed water bottles) are allowed in the park. RiverEdge concessions offer a diversified menu from official food vendor Two Brothers Roundhouse, along with a bar featuring domestic and craft beers, wine, sodas, bottled water and more. A busy row of festival food vendors also set up tents to sell everything from hot dogs to funnel cakes. 

Events take place at RiverEdge rain or shine, unless conditions endanger the safety of artists and the public. Concertgoers are advised to call the RiverEdge Park Weather Line, (630) 723-2480, to check status if inclement weather is pending.

The 2014 RiverEdge Season is sponsored by The Dunham Fund, City of Aurora and Paramount Arts Center Endowment (PACE).

RiverEdge Park is managed and programed by the Aurora Civic Center Authority (ACCA), which also oversees operations for Aurora's historic Paramount Theatre. Under the guidance of President and CEO Tim Rater, ACCA has a proven track record of attracting audiences to downtown Aurora, with first-year attendance at RiverEdge estimated at 100,000, and annual attendance at the Paramount Theatre having grown from 55,000 in 2010, to more than 250,000 for the recent 2013-2014 season.

For more information, visit or call the RiverEdge box office, 630-896-6666. 

Milwaukee Irish Fest Summer School Offers Week of Hands-On Learning

Each year, Milwaukee Irish Fest offers hands-on instruction of Celtic traditions through a Summer School program that takes place the week leading up to the annual festival. The world’s top authorities in Celtic music, history and culture teach at the Summer School, which happens Aug. 11-15. Highlights for 2014 include a knitting class, leather tooling workshop, Scottish fiddle and lectures with topics ranging from Celtic funeral traditions to the life of Brian Boru, Ireland’s first modern ruler. 

"The Irish Fest Summer School promises all things Irish for all ages," said Jane Walrath, director of the Irish Fest Summer School. "If you’re looking for a unique, educational experience this summer, there’s nothing quite like our Summer School program."

Music and Dance Programs:
Guitarist and vocalist John Doyle will offer a class in guitar and ballad sessions, while Belfast’s own Grainne Holland will teach Sean-Nós and intermediate Irish language. When it comes to instruments, three-day classes include flute, Irish mandolin, Irish tenor banjo, beginning whistle, bouzouki, intermediate and advanced guitar. There are also bodhrán (Irish frame drum) classes for every skill level and fiddle classes at the intermediate and advanced level taught by John Carty. Also, Fergal Scahill of We Banjo 3 will teach fiddle improvisation and variation

Accomplished classical violin players who wish to learn Celtic style can try an introduction to Irish fiddle with Ed Paloucek. Dancers will be delighted by a Sean-Nós dance class, Scottish Céilidh classes and set dancing.

Arts & Crafts:
Returning by popular demand will be classes on Sugán weaving, leather tooling and a knitting class by Edel MacBride. MacBride’s designs have been worn by many notable women, including Sarah Jessica Parker and Hillary Clinton.

Language and Culture:
Speakers of Irish – or those who wish to be – will enjoy a class on beginning Irish language, intermediate Irish language or a bilingual workshop. Local experts and visiting scholars will offer unique lectures with topics ranging from immigrant women, the Irish in World War I and Celtic spirituality – funeral customs.

Friday Samplers and Workshops:
Rounding out the offerings are Friday morning sampler classes for beginners and dabblers. Participants can sample 90-minute classes covering Irish music tune types and instruments, whistle, Sean-Nós dance, Scottish Céilidh, Irish language, Celtic spirituality and the life of Brian Boru. Two-hour workshops are being offered for intermediate and advanced musicians covering bodhrán, guitar and Scottish fiddle.

Registration is open now through July 30th. Classes are held on the campus of the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) in downtown Milwaukee. Dormitory housing is available to Irish Fest Summer School students. Register online at

In between and after classes, students can shop for CDs, books and T-shirts, join in a book discussion, enjoy teatime or meet at an area pub at night for music, dance and food. As Summer School concludes, participants are invited to continue the fun at Milwaukee Irish Fest; all enrollees will receive one free ticket to the festival along with free admission to the opening night Grand Hooley.

About Milwaukee Irish Fest
Milwaukee Irish Fest is North America’s largest celebration of Irish, Irish American and Celtic music and culture. The four-day festival showcases more than 100 entertainment acts on 16-stages at Henry W. Maier Festival Park on Milwaukee’s lakefront. The annual festival occurs every third weekend in August. The 2014 festival takes place August 14th through the 17th.

More than just a festival, the Milwaukee Irish Fest organization is passionately committed to igniting a love of Irish, Irish American and Celtic culture in all people. With the help of more than 4,000 volunteers, Milwaukee Irish Fest shares Irish and Celtic music, dance, drama, sports, culture, children’s activities and genealogy through year-round programming. For more information, visit


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