Just in time for its 30th anniversary, the Buffalo Irish Festival has found a new home at the Statler Hotel.
The festival was first held in 1982 at Weimer’s Grove in Lancaster as a celebration of Irish heritage and the history of the Irish community in Buffalo. After spending 20 consecutive years in Lancaster, the festival was moved to the festival grounds at the pier on the city’s Outer Harbor. In 2005, organizers had to relocate once again when “big things” were slated to start developing at the harbor, so the festival headed to the Hamburg Fairgrounds from 2006-2010. After struggling with high facility costs, poor sound quality and loss of interest due to the longer drive out to Hamburg, the organizers went on the search again for a new venue. They approached the new owner of the Statler Hotel, Mark Croce, who welcomed the festival as the hotel’s first big event this year.
The festival will be taking place on August 26, 27 and 28. It will open on Friday with a parade of the 32 County flags of Ireland at 5:30 p.m. The celebration will bring Irish musicians from across the country, as well as Canada and Ireland, to perform on three stages. There will also be Irish dancers from six local dancing schools performing. Mary Kate O’Connell’s theater company will continue their tradition of putting on a 50-minute performance on the history of the Irish community in Buffalo. This year, the play will be “Uniontown,” a story of the hard life of the Irish immigrants who worked for Union Iron Works in the late 1800s.
In addition to the entertainment, there will also be 25-30 vendors of Irish merchandise and crafts. Festival goers will be able to find Irish books, musical instruments, clothing, jewelry, artwork and more. There will also be plenty of traditional Irish food and beverages. The festival will be spread throughout both main ballrooms, the main grand lobby, and rooms on three different levels in the hotel. For many of the Irish cultural organizations present, this will be their largest fundraiser of the year.
Pre-sale tickets for the Irish Festival will go on sale in mid-July. They will be priced at $6 per person. Tickets purchased at the gate will be $10 for adults and $8 for children and seniors. A full-weekend pass will be $18. For more general information on the Buffalo Irish Festival, the entertainment schedule and participating organizations, visit the website or call the Shannon Pub at (716) 743-9348.