As autumn comes to upstate New York, people will flock to the region to see the leaves change color. Soon, brilliant oranges will contrast with the green that’s been on the trees all summer.
But a chance to revel in those same greens and oranges the traditional colors of Ireland comes just a bit earlier this year at the Irish 2000 Music and Arts Festival which will take place on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 14 and 15 at the Altamont Fairgrounds.
In its 11th year, the festival brings forward the best in Celtic music and culture.
`We have rides, games, over 30 food vendors, and over 30 different performers,` said Matt Nelligan, festival president.
Vendors will show off their unique crafts and musicians will perform on four stages. One is for traditional Irish music, one for contemporary, one for local, and one for the family, all ensuring that there will be no shortage of entertainment. Children, teenagers, and adults will all be able to find something to do at the festival.
The music has always been a highlight of the Irish 2000 Festival, and this year carries with it a new spin on Celtic music.
`We’ve had a big development over the past five years in Celtic punk music,` said Nelligan. Indeed, Friday and Saturday will feature many Celtic punk bands, including popular acts such as Flogging Molly and the Tossers.
Local bands will also showcase their styles of Irish music.
`Irish 2000 has an emphasis on the music ` we’ve played there every year,` said Rick Bedrosian, bass player from local favorite Hair of the Dog. `We have a brand new CD coming out, available for the first time at the festival.`
`I’ve been doing Irish festivals all over the country,` said performer Kevin McKrell, of the Hard Road Ceilidh Band, and formerly with The McKrells,`but this was the first one in the Capital District.`
McKrell, will also set up booths at the festival to sell his art, T-shirts, and Celtic tours of Ireland and Scotland.
Aside from being able to perform, Irish 2000 gives bands the chance to get together.
`All the festivals, but especially this one, are the only chance we get to hang out with other bands,` said Bedrosian.
The festival is entirely a volunteer effort, with the majority of proceeds going to charities.
`There’s an awful lot of work that goes into this,` said Nelligan. `We start for the next year in October.`
But with more than 200 volunteers, the festival proves to be a success every year.
`It’s tough to manage,` said Nelligan,` but the money we’ve been able to donate to charities, both Irish and local, makes it worth it.`
McKrell noted that one of the highlights of the festival is how many local and regional artists and artisans are represented.
`He [Matt Nelligan] is really loyal to the local musicians,` McKrell said.
Even if you’re not Irish, the festival offers something for everyone. `It [Celtic culture] has a large crossover appeal,` said Nelligan. `If you love rock music, for example, you’re going to love it whether or not it has a fiddle or a bagpipe.`
`It really changes from year to year,` said Nelligan of the environment that people can expect. The only thing for sure is that everyone will have a chance to be just a little bit Irish for the day.
Irish 2000 will take place at the Altamont Fairgrounds from 5 to 11 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 14, and from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 15. Tickets for Friday only are $15 in advance; $20 at the gate; for Saturday only, $15 in advance; $20 at the gate. A two-day pass is $25 in advance only. Children under 10 are free. There is a $1 discount for visitors with a Price Chopper AdvantEdge card.
For information or to purchase tickets, visit www.Irish2000fest.com or call 1-888-41-Ifest.“