Feis in the Forest Irish Music Festival Will Bring Food and Fun to Downtown Wake Forest Saturday September 23

— Susan London • susan.london@rolesvillebuzz.com • September 2017

Raleigh Irish Fest

The Ancient Order of Hibernians marched in the Raleigh St. Patrick’s Day parade. Front and center is George McEvoy.
Photo courtesy of George McEvoy.

Local residents will want to dig out their kilts and tweed jackets because a wee bit of the Emerald Isle will be coming to Wake Forest again this year. The Wake County chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians will host its annual Feis in the Forest Irish Music Festival on Saturday, September 23, offering plenty of Celtic music, dancing and fun from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. on South Taylor Street.

Feis, pronounced “fesh,” is the term for a traditional Gaelic arts and culture event.

“The reason we run the festival is to foster Irish culture. All of the proceeds are donated to charity. It’s a completely voluntary event. Everybody is welcome,” said George McEvoy, an officer for the AOH who is helping to organize the event. 

The event itself is free and open to the public. All proceeds from vendor fees and alcohol sales will be given to the Tri-Area Ministry Food Pantry. The group will also collect both monetary and food donations throughout the day.

“We want people to come out, have a good time, sit and listen to music, bring the dogs, and bring the kids,” McEvoy said.

The 100-member fraternal group is a local chapter of a larger national organization. McEvoy said they’ve been putting on the festival for at least the 11 years that he’s been living in North Carolina. Prior to last year’s event, the festival was held in Moore Square in downtown Raleigh. It was moved to make way for planned renovations at that location.

While last year’s festival drew perhaps 1,500 to 2,000 attendees, the group has made some changes to draw a crowd more typical of past years in Raleigh when they could expect upward of 5,000 participants. This year, the date was moved back by one week to avoid a conflict with Rolesville’s BBQ & Bands Festival. The time has also changed to later in the afternoon in hopes of drawing more families who typically have obligations earlier in the day.

Celtic music will be featured on the main stage throughout the afternoon and evening. The headline act is Nine Times Around, a Raleigh-based Irish pub rock band that performs traditional and modern Irish music. Solo singer Gerry McCrudden and Ewes Tree, a traditional Irish folk band, will also perform.

Dance troupes from the Trionoide Academy of Irish Dance, the Lynn O’Grady Quinlan Connick Academy of Irish Dance, Erin Bartow’s Highland Dancers, Rince Go Halainn Irish Dance Academy, and the Inis Cairde School of Irish Dance will also perform. All musicians and dancers are donating their time and talents free of charge.

Along the street, there will be a seisún tent (a traditional pub session where musicians gather to play music), demonstrations of Gaelic sports, a display of various Irish dog breeds presented by Celtic Canines, a knobby knees contest for the men, and a red hair and freckles contest for kids.

Though outside coolers are not permitted, plenty of food and drink will be available for purchase on-site. A variety of Irish beers will be available for sale through a ticket system similar to that used for the Friday Night on White events: IDs will be checked before attendees purchase tickets, and the tickets can then be redeemed at separate beer tents.

Cousins Maine Lobster, D’Burritos, Baton Rouge Cuisine, Oak City Fish and Chips, Stuft Gourmet Baked Potatoes, and Kona Ice are some of the food trucks that have committed to the event.

27587 Magazine, BiddyMurphy.com, Doherty’s Irish Pub, McPherson Family Eye Care, Schuette Law of North Raleigh, and Wake Forest Awards & Engraving are sponsors for the festival. Vendor tents include Wild Irish Rose Celtic Shop, Sinead’s Cottage gift shop, Irish Pirate Trading Company, and Pixie Treasures Celtic Shoppe.

For more information about the festival, visit www.raleighirishfestival.com, or find the festival on Facebook @RaleighIrishMusicFestival and on Twitter @RaleighIrishFes.