By the early 1870s, it was estimated that 10 percent of the population of Kansas City was from Ireland or was directly descended from Irish immigrants. Well, this year marks the ninth annual Kansas City Irish Fest, which claims to be one of the top three Irish festivals in the nation. The event begins Friday, September 2, and goes through Sunday, September 4, at Crown Center. We caught up with Ian Byrne, frontman of the locally based but internationally known band the Elders for his take on the festival.
The Pitch: You travel all over to perform at Irish festivals. What stands out about the one in Kansas City?
Byrne: The Elders have grown and matured side by side with the Kansas City Irish Fest. We had just started the Elders when the Brookside and Westport Irish Fests were born. They merged and have become the Kansas City Irish Festival. We travel all around North America, Canada and Europe. The organization and hospitality within the KCIF is one of the best in the world. We have all become very close friends, and the success and continued improvement of our festival is always a topic of constant discussion.
What's your favorite part about the KCIF?
We don't have to fly anywhere, be stuck in an airport or drive a long road. We get to stay at home and go to the beautiful Crown Center complex surrounded by Kansas City architectural treasures and luxury, combined with about 30,000 of our most loyal fans. It's pretty amazing!
The Elders are obviously huge in KC. Is this show a special one for the band?
Yes, it is. It is indeed our biggest and most stressful show of the year. We are surrounded by family and friends, and we always have a huge crowd. We want to be at our complete best.
For more information including entertainment schedules, vendor lists and ticket pricing, see kcirishfest.com.