New Orleans Irish Festival looks to spread Irish culture

India Yarborough

Members of New Orleans’ Irish community will join forces next week to host the city’s fourth annual Irish Festival — an event promising more than just green beer and leprechauns.

“We’re passionate about keeping the Irish culture alive in New Orleans,” Joni Muggivan, Irish Festival board vice president, said. “I think as far as Irish culture goes, it’s often just green beer and shamrocks, but there’s Irish folklore, Irish dancing, Irish history.”

Muggivan, owner of the Muggivan School of Irish Dance, has helped organize the family-friendly event each year since it began in 2014 and plays a large role in organizing the festival’s official Irish dance competition known as “Irish Channel Feis.”

She expects over 1,000 attendees this year and said 17 vendors plan to participate in the day-long festival, which is set to take place Sept. 16 at the Kingsley House — a settlement house located near New Orleans’ Irish Channel.

“This year’s festival we have almost triple the number of vendors we’ve had in the past,” Jan Gunter, Irish dancer, festival organizer and vendor coordinator, said. “Now that we’re in our fourth year, we’re finally being noticed.”

Gunter said festival vendors will include many local shops and restaurants such as Bayou Soap Company, Still Waters Jewelry, Abita Brewing Company and Dickie Brennan and Company.

“Another thing we’ve done this year, bigger and better, is social media,” Gunter said. “We’re really expecting to have a good turnout.”

Everything is planned out for a great festival this year, Gunter said, but there is one thing that still worries her.

“I hope that the weather cooperates,” she said. “That’s it. It’s the one thing we have no control over.”