Great American Irish Festival's Co-Director says no camping or highland games next year

The co-director for the Great Irish Festival's Co-Director says there will be no camping or highland games at next year's festival.

Posted: Dec 12, 2019 11:20 PM

The co-director for the Great American Irish Festival says there will be no camping or highland games at next year's festival.

Since the initial Facebook post announcing that the festival will move from the Herkimer County Fair Grounds to the Irish Cultural Center, many people have been raising concerns about the new location and the new dates of the festival.

David Wood, the festival's co-director, says he believes this is a good change. He says the Irish Cultural Center will be a good location because there is a larger population, public transportation, and it's easier to get to.

"I think what it does is it brings the Irish culture to more people, a central location with public transportation and there's just more population density right there," Wood said.

Wood says it will still be like the traditional festival with a new twist, there will still be Irish music, two stages with bands, and possibly bagpipes.

One of the top concerns from longtime festival go-ers has been about camping. Wood says it was a tough decision to take away the camping part of the festival.

"It was an unfortunate part to have to say no to or we got to come up with something different," Wood said. "There are local campgrounds that would be some what close to downtown Utica. It was one of the unfortunate sides of this decision."

Others are concerned with losing the highland games, which have been a huge highlight of the festival for many years.

"The highland games were a pretty decent draw at the Herkimer County Fairgrounds, do I think that it wont ever come back, no I think we could maybe try to figure something out."

Given the new area, some have been wondering if it will still be a family-friendly event.

"Our number one concern that we had coming together was, how do we make sure it doesn't turn into some crazy, nuts type of situation," Wood said. "It will be almost all family-friendly."

With the festival moving from July to September, some are concerned about potential weather complications.

"I think what's exciting about moving it to September, is it is truly half way to Saint Patrick's Day," Wood said. "Mid-September, people are still looking for things to do because the weather is still nice it's still technically Summer."

Another concern that as been raised is parking.

"We have some ideas we're going to float out there and make things work, whether it's a shuttle service or local businesses or something like that that will allow parking," Wood said.

Wood also says in terms of security and public safety, they have a plan for that.

The festival will be Sept. 18 though Sept. 20.

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