My husband and I went to the Irish Festival in Watertown this afternoon. I went to it with low expectations thanks to what other people had told me and, even though it wasn't quite as bad as they made it seem, it wasn't as good as the Great American Irish Festival near Utica.
I'll start with the good. I got to see Merry Mischief perform and I really enjoyed seeing them. They're a favorite pair of minstrels that frequent the Sterling Renaissance Festival and have been to a few Pagan festivals as well. I love a good Irish ditty, and its even better when there are Pagan themes snuck in! I also enjoyed seeing the local Irish step dancers (I should try that sometime...) and listening to new Irish bands. There were a few vendors and it's always nice to see Pagan wares - tarot, ogham sticks, fairy statues, etc... It was fun to get out and go to an event in my new home city.
That said, there was a lot to be desired from something in its 25th year. The location was crowded and it was really, really hard to find a parking place. GAIF, near Utica, has its Irish fest on fair grounds, meaning there's ample parking and plenty of room. I understand that Watertown probably wants their festivities close to St. Patrick's Day, but Utica has theirs near Lughnasadh, the traditional gathering of the tribes in Ireland. There are more cultural activities at the Utica event, including language lessons, Irish dog breed exhibits, dance lessons, and even an Irish mass.
Really, I think I would have liked it better were it in a more convenient location. The building was just too small. The main stage, on the 11th floor, felt so claustrophobic that we decided not to stay for the main act. Will I go next year? Maybe. It's okay for a few hours and, like I said, it's always fun to get out and do *something*. I hope there are improvements in the future.