It seems like every year there is something new and exciting at the Michigan Irish Music Festival, and 2019 was no exception.
A new sponsor was introduced in a major way; Five Farms Irish Cream debuted at the 2019 MIMF and was an instant hit with patrons, musicians, and volunteers alike. A sample tasting tent along the water nestled between the Cork and Kerry stages was the perfect spot to feature this delicious treat.
Patrons were able to learn a little about Five Farms, the history of how it came to be, and be some of the first people in Michigan to experience it’s creamy, delicious flavor. All of the bars sold the Irish Cream over the weekend and sponsors and festival organizers were thrilled with the reception by the masses.
In addition to tasting it on ice, in coffee, in tea (hot and cold), you can also enjoy it in a variety of recipes. We suggest the Irish Truffle Martini, but make sure to check out their website for more deliciousness!
Music floats on the air as the last beams of the setting sun strike the jewelry in the Irish Store and set it twinkling. There is magic at the Michigan Irish Music Festival. A wonderful way to bring that magic home with you is by visiting the Irish Market and the Irish Store.
Every year a dedicated group of people come together to help us build our amazing festival. You may not know their names, but they know you. They know how you MUST get your yearly treats, or that it is time for a new hat or kilt. They enjoy seeing you laugh at the T-shirts and plaques with witty Irish sayings, meeting your new sweetheart as you pick out a ring, and dreaming with you of future trips as you admire the beautiful photographs of Ireland.
Our Market Vendors are there every year, just waiting to help you find that perfect memento that will help make the rest of your year that much brighter. Because they are unable to be here in 2020, we are bringing them to you. Below is the list of our valued vendors and links to their online stores.
When a friend you have known since kindergarten asks you for a favor, you do your best to oblige. When my friend Chris Zahrt, who was my schoolmate, teammate and even roommate in college, asked me to help with a new addition to the Michigan Irish Music Festival, I jumped in head-first. After all, the favor involved dogs, my favorite subject.
Chris asked if I could help out with a new event, adding a program with Irish dog breeds as part of MIMF. My response: Woof! I had hoped for years MIMF would add an Irish dog breeds component, and it finally had, in 2016. While I was confident in my abilities to pull it off – Chris had sent me tons of information on how other Irish festivals conducted their dog event – I wasn’t sure I could get all eight Irish breeds to that first Celtic Canines. I was certain the Glen of Imaal terrier would elude me, since it is a pretty rare breed in the United States. As luck would have it, I found TWO Glens in the Muskegon area, and both dog owners were ecstatic about participating.
Through Facebook posts and word of mouth, we soon had all eight breeds lined up for year 1: Irish Wolfhound, Irish terrier, Kerry Blue terrier, Glen of Imaal terrier, Irish setter, Red & White setter, Irish water spaniel and Soft-Coated Wheaten terrier. Working out logistics also was a challenge … we wanted to make sure each dog and owner had enough space to feel comfortable, yet leave enough room for MIMF patrons to meet and pet the breeds and talk to the breed owners. Using the same area as the Highland Games from the previous day was the solution. It allowed for plenty of space under the tent (in case of rain) or out in the open grassy area.
soft coated wheaten terrier
red and white setter
kerry blue terrier
irish wolf hounds
Irish Setter and others
glen of imaal
The next challenge/worry: Would people come to see the dogs? We posted signage and did local radio and morning TV news programs, bringing along an Irish Wolfhound and Irish Water Spaniel (of course they were a hit with the TV audience). We spread the word any way we could.
I still remember the minutes before we opened the gates to let patrons into the Celtic Canines area. I checked in with the security guard posted at the gate. To my astonishment, he pointed out a long line of people. He said that was the crowd WAITING to get in to see the dogs. Once that gate opened, the crowd came pouring in, some of them running over to the area where the dogs were! Because of our beautifulkerry bl signage for each breed (thank you, Longer Days), fans were able to locate their favorite breed right away. We had several Irish Wolfhounds, which were, and continue to be, the stars of Celtic Canines.
The many volunteers who have helped with the Celtic Canines team the past five years have been incredible. They are a big part of the reason we have been able to get more and more dogs in each of the years we’ve held the event. That first year, we had 16 dogs. In 2019, we had 26! Each year, the dog owners would remark to me that our volunteers were the best and they will keep coming back. Our volunteers not only ready the Celtic Canines area, they escort the owners and dogs from their cars to their reserved spots under the tents, help set up crates and tables and even “dog sit” if the owner needs to take a break or wants to wander the festival grounds. Once the event ends, they help the dog owners pack up and escort the dogs back to their vehicles.
We’re proud that we have delighted thousands of patrons who have attended the Celtic Canines event each year. The dogs love the attention and the dog owners love the fact that their pooches are worn out by the end of the day!
I was saddened to have to inform our dog owners that the MIMF was canceled this year because of COVID-19. The owners all expressed their disappointment, but all understood that safety comes first. Each has vowed to return in 2021.
We look forward to seeing you on the final day of the 2021 MIMF for Celtic Canines. The dogs will be ready!
The disappointment of 2020 has hit everything we hold dear.
The devastation we all felt with the cancellation of our beloved Michigan Irish Music Festival has left us heartbroken. There is a huge void for all who love MIMF as September 2020 has arrived.
My sincere hope is that I can fill that void with some wonderful memories of festivals past!
Irish music has been a part of me all my life. My roots are from County Galway (grandmother) and County Meath (grandfather). When Chris asked me to do this, I started to think about how Irish culture – especially Irish music – has impacted my life. I thought about how, in my young life, my Grandpa would play all the rebel tunes on his squeezebox. My aunts would dance to the jigs and reels. It runs deep in my soul.
I have been a part of Irish music festivals in Muskegon since the very first one. In 2013, I was asked to photograph MIMF. For me, it was a no brainer. Some see me as a historian for the festival. I suppose they are correct, and I humbly accept that role!
When Chris asked me to do this, I immediately realized it was going to be a very difficult task. Where do I start? How do I pick a list of top 10 photos? I have literally thousands of photos from all those years. How do I pick a hundred photos… How do I pick 10? What about all the festivals I did not photograph (pre 2013). Can I do this without representing those years?
I realize I am overthinking this…
MIMF has been a staple in our community, a crown jewel in the heart of our festival lives. Our community has embraced this festival and our volunteers show up proudly every year to make it the best it can be. Our venue is arguably the most beautiful of all festival venues. Every year, we gather the finest musicians in all the land. Thousands of fans fill the tents and leave with their bellies and hearts full. I can do this…
I clear my mind. I start at my beginning, sorting through all the photos. My list totals 25 photos. I based my choices on a variety of things. Some are personal, and some are simply because they belong on such a list. In my heart, every photo was chosen with all the volunteers and fans in mind.
This festival is a HUGE success every year because of you!
I sincerely hope you enjoy my look back at festivals past. I look forward to the party it will be in 2021.
#1 – Jig Jam – I’ll start with my favorite photo: Jig Jam in 2016 having a great time at MIMF – pretty standard stuff from every group that comes through town! This one is very special. The boys liked it so much they made it the cover of the Live In Tullamore album, which is truly an honor for MIMF and for me personally.
#2 – Connla – This photo is of my dear friend Ciara McCafferty of the group Connla, taken during the 2019 fest. For me, the perspective through the harp strings and the lighting bring the performance to life. I can feel the power in Ciara’s voice. Connla is one of my favorite bands!
#3 – Dave Curley – This is a photo of one of the greatest performers to grace the MIMF stage. Dave Curley is hands down my favorite performer. The photo is from the 2016 MIMF. I found the perfect angle to highlight Dave as he mesmerized the intimate crowd with his beautiful music. Do not miss any chance you get to see him. You will not be disappointed.
#4 – Moxie Strings – The Moxie Strings from 2018. My dear friends Diana and Ali are always shining stars at MIMF. For me, this photo oozes happiness. Their involvement in our community with local kids is such a blessing. Their sets are always packed because their hearts and music are so beautiful.
#5 – Scythian – Scythian circa 2018. This band has been an MIMF favorite for years. For me the, perspective of an adoring packed house as they take their final bow tells the story of a typical Friday night at the MIMF. I went black and white to accentuate the lines of the lights above. I love the photo, as it gives you the band’s point of view.
#6 – Heritage Landing – Second to none… We have the most beautiful venue. Year in and year out, the beauty of Michigan delivers. The photo speaks for itself.
#7 – David Howley – This photo from the 2018 MIMF warms my heart. We Banjo 3 was not at our festival that year. They were busting their butts at the top of the music charts. What did David Howley do with his well deserved time off? He came to our festival! He wanted to chill with us, and came to support his friends and their families. He made himself available to everyone. He sat in on sets with friends. He is one of us, and one of the coolest dudes that I am honored to call my friend.
#8 – Gaelic Storm – 2019 MIMF saw the return of Gaelic Storm. Padraig Murphy never disappoints! The MIMF crowd delivered for the brave, crowdsurfing Murphy. I’m happy to report that there were no broken legs on this trip around the crowd.
#9 – Doolin – In 2019, our stages were graced by this phenomenal group from France: Doolin. This photo is a huge example of the energy these guys bring. They were to be the headliner for 2020 – a HUGE loss for all of us with the cancellation of MIMF 2020. These guys will be back, count on it. Their rendition of La Boheme was exquisite! They are absolutely one of my favorite bands to listen to and photograph.
#10 – FEIS – A big part of MIMF is the FEIS. Every year, these wonderfully talented kids grace the stages at Muskegon Catholic Central hoping to become champions. This high flier was captured dancing her heart out at the 2015 MIMF.
#11 – Mr. MIMF – This iconic 2015 photo of “Mr. MIMF,” Seamus Kennedy, really belongs in the top 10. We have seen it many times throughout the years of advertising the fest. Year in and year out, Seamus never disappoints. He delivers, whether its raising a toast to an adoring packed house in the Pub Tent or singing silly songs to the wee ones. Beloved by all… “Mr. MIMF” Seamus.
#12 – Runa – I have this crazy love of the tools of the trade… Music in motion, or better said: music frozen in time. My dear friend Cheryl Prashker sets the tempo for the Magnificent band Runa. This 2015 photo was inspired purely by the music and a killer angle on the chimes.
#13 – We Banjo 3 – 2015 saw the triumphant return of We Banjo 3. The boys’ meteoric rise was starting to unfold. This stage selfie with the packed house in the background is a HUGE statement piece. Being in the right place at the right time netted me this memorable moment in MIMF history.
#14 – Crowded Sunset – Once again, Michigan delivered. Some years we have cold and rain. Some years we have hot hot hot. 2013 brought us spectacular weather with amazing sunsets. The sun aligned with the golden hue of a wonderful day at MIMF, and the view from the stage looking at the crowd that day netted one of the most beautiful settings the festival has ever seen.
#15 – Alexander Fedoryka of Scythian – In 2013, Alexander Fedoryka of Scythian Rocked the MIMF stage. For me, everything about this photo is perfect. You can hear the beautiful music as you look at the perfect color and clarity of this moment in time.
#16 – The Fans – My tribute to the WONDERFUL fans. Every year, you show up without fail. You drink and soak up all that MIMF has to offer… Everything Irish. You are the reason everyone works so hard all year long. You are the reason MIMF does not disappoint. You are the reason these marvelous musicians want to return to our little festival. You are loved and appreciated! I will not date this photo, as this is how great you look every year.
#17 – Mick Broderick & Dave Curley – 2018 brought back the dynamic duo of Mick Broderick and Dave Curley. Once again, perspective and color make this one of my favorite photos, and of course, so does my friend Mick!
#18 – We Banjo 3 – 2014 was the year We Banjo 3 came into our lives. So much fantastic music has graced our stage because of these boys. From then to today, they have risen to the top of the billboard charts, and they continue to ride at the top of the game. I have had the honor and privilege to photograph these fine lads for the last 6 years, and have taken thousands of photos of them. I have also had the honor of them using one of my photos on the inside cover of their award-winning album, Haven. These are not just my friends, they are my brothers. I am proud to present one of the first photos I ever took of them: the baby faced We Banjo 3, live from MIMF.
#19 – The Banjo! – In the shadow of photo 18 comes the opportunity for me to get a little creative. I choose this photo because of perspective and simply put… The banjo! Through the years, I have heard banjo music and liked it. When Edna and Martin turned up the heat in 2014, I found a new love for the banjo, and oh yeah, Dave is in the background. This is a fond memory of my introduction to the power of the banjo.
#20 – Gaelic Storm – 2019 brought the lovely Katie Grennan to MIMF with Gaelic Storm. I love the Pub Tent stage… The lighting is superb and the angles are stunning. Katie’s music is amazing too.
#21 – Quadruple Exposures – 2016 was the year I explored some of the more intricate abilities of my camera and challenged my abilities. This is one of my first quadruple exposures. Everything composed in the camera, with little Photoshop editing for color and vignette. Jig Jam all together as one.
#22 – Gaelic Storm & Doolin – One of the most exciting elements of these festivals is the collaborative efforts of these fine musicians. Some of the most memorable moments happen when bands become one. 2019 MIMF saw the likes of Gaelic Storm and Doolin come together to raise the tent.
#23 – Gaelic Storm – MIMF and Muskegon fan favorite Gaelic Storm graced our main stage once again in 2019. They are truly one of the greatest Irish bands in all the land, and truly deserving of a top 25 spot in my list.
#24 – Aoife Scott – Ah, my dear Aoife. The forever face of MIMF. I could write a book about how much I love Aoife Scott. Her smile lights up the room. Her voice angelic. She is simply adored!
#25 – 2021 – I love taking photos of the performers and all the other wonderful things the MIMF bring to us every year. The best is the photos of you.. The fans. I love capturing you in your element, capturing your smiles, and I love capturing your happy moments enjoying all the festival has to offer. The best is always saved for last. Thank you for letting me share your moments. Here’s to 2021. Oh my, what a party it will be!
5 – 7 pm EST Thursdays
Listen on Muskegon 100.9FM
Stream live from your computer or mobile device and listen ANYWHERE! bit.ly/StreamSoundsLikeIreland
☘️ Sponsored by Michigan Irish Music Festival
Tune in on Thursday’s from 5 – 7 pm to Muskegon 100.9FM for West Michigan’s first Celtic Radio program! Sounds Like Ireland is sponsored by the Michigan Irish Music Festival and hosted by “The Voice of the Michigan Irish Music Festival” Bill Marshall. In addition to terrific tunes, Bill will bring in special guests for each show and talk about all things Irish in West Michigan. Put it in your calendar or set an alarm on your phone! We are pretty excited that the airwaves will be extra special on these Thursdays! Can’t get to a radio? Download the app and listen from ANYWHERE! http://player.listenlive.co/50151
After careful consideration and under the recommendation of local and state officials, including the office of Governor Witmer, the St. Patrick’s Party event of the Michigan Irish Music Festival will be canceled. This event was scheduled for Friday & Saturday, March 13 & 14 at Bella Maria’s Event Center at 513 Pontaluna Rd. Muskegon.
Our first and foremost priority is the safety of our guests, performers, and volunteers. The planning and hard work of our volunteer crew is to be commended and this decision was hard, but in the end, we know this is for the best of all involved.
Click here for updates on Facebook.
The Michigan Irish Music Festival is excited to announce its annual St. Patrick’s Party March 13 and 14 at Bella Maria’s Ristorante & Event Center, 513 West Pontaluna Road, Norton Shores, MI.
The party will feature live entertainment both nights. The Kreellers, an energetic Celtic Rock group hailing from Detroit, is an unstoppable powerhouse steeped in traditional Irish sound. The band’s mix of rock, funk, and punk elements has created a sound that is sure to keep patrons rocking all night!
Other highlights of the event include performances by local favorites the Oat Bran Boys, an acoustic trio of bluegrass and Irish music, and traditional Irish dance performances from the Ardan Academy of Dance. Additionally, the silent auction returns both nights with several new exciting formats and ways to bid on the variety of items.
Back by popular demand is McGovern’s Corned Beef and Irish fare. Pigeon Hill Brewing Company’s MI Irish Stout, Magner’s Irish Cider, Irish cream, Jameson Irish Whiskey, and Budweiser products will also be served. Doors open at 5:30pm both nights with music starting at 6pm. Tickets are available at the door for $8, and kids 12 and under get in for free.
The mission of the Michigan Irish Music Festival is to produce a quality Midwest Irish Music Festival that promotes Irish culture and heritage while enhancing the community through entertainment, tourism, education and philanthropy. The festival is proud to support Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry and Kids’ Foot Basket with gifts of non-perishable food items and cash donations. Since 2008, due to the success of the St. Pat’s Party and the Festival, the Michigan Irish Music Festival has donated over $266,000 in cash and 21,000 pounds of food back to the community.
The Michigan Irish Music Festival will return this fall, September 17-20, 2019, at Heritage Landing in downtown Muskegon. The festival kicks off with a Pub Party on Thursday, September 17th. The festival and St. Patrick’s Day Party are sponsored by G&L, Budweiser, Van’s Car Wash & Quick Lube, and Family Financial Credit Union.
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Michigan Irish Music Festival
The Michigan Irish Music Festival observes its 20th anniversary this year, and what better way to celebrate than by hosting more bands than ever in the history of the event?
The festival returns to Heritage Landing in downtown Muskegon Sept. 12-15 and features Irish and Celtic music on seven covered stages. The festival kicks off Thursday, Sept. 12 with its Pub Preview Party featuring food, beverages and three bands in the pub tent only. The full festival begins on Friday.
In addition, to live music, the Celtic Kitchen and beverage stations serve authentic Irish food and beverages. The Tea Room has non-alcoholic choices and treats in a relaxed atmosphere. Other activities include the Irish Market and Irish Store, children’s activities, a cultural center and a session tent. Saturday, FEIS, an Irish dance competition, and the Highland Games are held. Sunday, a Catholic mass at 9 a.m. will be followed by a traditional Irish breakfast. Celtic Canines, where patrons meet and learn about Irish dog breeds, also is Sunday.
This year’s festival, expected to draw 40,000 patrons, is expected to have a record 26 bands. Here’s a sneak peek at 10 of the bands on tap:
After two decades and more than 2,000 live shows, this multi-national Celtic band returns to the festival for the first time in five years. Gaelic Storm attributes their continued success to a diversified fan base from several musical genres: country, bluegrass, Celtic and rock.
Gaelic Storm, which has gained a reputation as a genre-bending Irish rock band, has topped the Billboard World Chart six times, appearing at mainstream music festivals and headlining the largest Irish Festivals across the country.
The band’s most recent release, “Decade-Best of The High Kings,” garnered rave reviews, and their recently completed U.S. tour sold out many of its venues. High Kings’ unique contemporary style and arrangement to songs of yesteryear are sure to delight.
The singer and songwriter from Dublin was named the 2018 winner of the
Best Irish Folk Act at the Irish Post Music Awards. Her music has a broad creative scope, but is largely influenced by her own roots in folk and traditional Irish music.
ONE FOR THE FOXES
This exciting and dynamic transatlantic trio presents a rousing blend of Irish and American folk music. They offer both traditional and newly composed music, presented in an energetic and engaging manner.
The multi-award winning quartet from Ireland blends the best of traditional Irish music with bluegrass and Americana in a new genre, which has been branded as “I-Grass” — Irish influenced Bluegrass.
Doolin’ currently is one of the most innovative bands of the Irish music scene. Formed in Toulouse in 2005, the band comprises six accomplished and eclectic musicians. French in origin this sextet brings a fresh approach to Irish music. Doolin’ combines instrumentals, vocals and original compositions in a resolutely modern style. The arrangements at times taking their inspiration from pop-rock, folk, jazz, funk and even rap.
Pigeon Kings draws from Celtic and rock influences, but they’re not Celtic Rock. There are traditional elements, but they’re not a traditional band. With elements of Americana and Bluegrass, they have a sound and persona all their own. Pigeon Kings offers a high energy stage show backed by unique compositions, honest lyrics and experienced showmanship.
THE DROWSY LADS
Jack Baker of the Irish American News named The Drowsy Lads the “Best Irish American Band of 2018.” The Lads, out of Columbus, Ohio, have won over both casual music lovers and those steeped in hardcore traditional Irish music. They’re fond of creating their own spirited arrangements and offer occasional original compositions (even mixing in Bluegrass and Classical), but that never gets in the way of their obsession with the pure old Irish tunes, songs, wit and friendship that has defined Irish music for centuries.
After winning New Group of the Year (Chicago Irish American News) and Best New Group (Live Ireland Music Awards) in 2016, Connla has been quickly making an impact on the folk/traditional scene. More recently, Connla won Album of the Year for 2019 at both the ALSR Celtic Music Awards and the Livvies Awards. Songlines magazine named Connla their “must-see act” for their UK tour and proclaimed “a band this young shouldn’t be this good.”
The five young musicians that make up The Conifers met while studying traditional music at the University of Limerick. They have since developed a lasting friendship, which is evident in their music. In 2018, The Conifers, whose music is energetic and lively with a wholesome sound, won first place in the prestigious Michigan Irish Music Initiative competition in Dundalk.
Advance tickets and passes for this year’s Michigan Irish Music Festival are available online (patrons save $5 per ticket online vs. the gate price). The festival offers an Early-In Free promotion on Friday only from 5 to 6 p.m., sponsored by Family Financial Credit Union. Other major sponsors of the festival include G&L, Van’s Car Wash and Budweiser. The Delta Hotels by Marriot and Shoreline Inn are host hotels for the festival.