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Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 12:01 am

Labors of love

Exorna performs Sunday at The Celtic Festival, outside the Celtic Mist Pub.


As the Labor Day weekend approaches, the common calendar says to bade the summer season goodbye and begin our autumn adventures. Labor Day proper, always the first Monday in September, falls on the first day of the month in 2014, so we are experiencing the earliest holiday weekend possible. I say, use that for an excuse to let the summer feeling fly on for a few more weeks.

Plan ahead, if you so desire, for these upcoming happenings. Next weekend, craft beer, music and food headline the SOB (Springfield Oyster and Beer) Festival at The Inn at 835 on Sept. 6 and Donnie’s Homespun Craft Beer Festival on Sept. 5 and 6. The weekend after, on Sept. 12 and 13, Donnie’s hosts again, this time presenting the return of Sangamon Valley Roots Revival’s American Music Show. Then, a big time festival with a Midwest approach to a Far West feel, debuts near Danville as the Phases of the Moon Music and Art Festival runs from Sept. 11 through the 14. Now, let’s return to the pleasant present.

Say it ain’t so, Joe, Giuseppe, Yossef, Jose and Josef, but our Ethnic Festival is over. After some 40 years as the festival, before there was a festival every weekend in Springfield, organizers are closing down this year due to a lack of participation. Hosting some 75,000 attendees a weekend during its heyday in the ’70s and ’80s, recent turnouts have been closer to 10,000. Word is, the party may return again someday, but perhaps the melting pot has overflowed and ethnicity is not as promoted as it once was, when organizations based on nationalities championed the heritage of family and social cultures through music, dance, costumes and food. Until we meet again, auf wiedersehen, adios and ciao, Ethnic Festival.

Apparently the Celtic culture still runs strong in central Illinois, mostly due to the hard work and fun created by the Ogilvy Studio and St. Andrew’s Society folks. They’ve created a festival just to celebrate the mainly Scottish and Irish influence in our world and also to promote and raise funds for the group’s upcoming international tour. Simply dubbed, Celtic Festival, the event takes place in front of the Celtic Mist Pub between Washington and Adams on Seventh Street and goes all day long on Sunday, Aug. 31, from 2 p.m. to whenever. The proceeds raised after paying expenses, go to support the grandly titled, “World Tour” by the Central Illinois St. Andrew’s Society (hey, it’s a small world after all and a big deal to go to Scotland and Ireland) set to commence in a couple weeks. Bands playing include, Skibbereen, Exorna and The Emerald Underground, along with appearances by bagpiping virtuoso Tommy Ogilvy, in several configurations with various performers. There are plenty of dancers, drummers, pipers and pleasures to be seen, felt, heard and otherwise experienced at this most fun event. And did I mention beer and food?

In another Celtic moment happening soon, Dublin native and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, resident John Byrne returns to town with his accomplished band for a house concert at the home of Carol and Nat Radwine on Sept. 6. For more information on experiencing this world class performer of classic Irish tunes and other sweet stuff, make contact at 217-652-2321 or

What about electronic music happenings and hip-hop hoopla, you say? Labor Day weekend treats you well with a treat of Filibusta and Pleasure on their Awakening Tour with support from Yu Neek, Sir Racha and Wormhole at Donnie’s Homespun on Aug. 30. Other than that, peruse the Pub Crawl for times when a superb lineup of quality music hits the stages across town.

Contact Tom Irwin at


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