After a COVID hiatus, Michigan’s biggest St. Patrick’s Day street party roars back with Celtic bands and DJs. Get details, the performance schedule and info about a ticket giveaway at Local Spins.
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In March 2020, the COVID storm clouds were swirling.
Only days before the massive Irish on Ionia street party was set to uncork St. Patrick’s Day revelry in Grand Rapids, organizers reluctantly pulled the plug on the 10th anniversary celebration.
“Planning the 10-year anniversary back in 2020 was so much fun. My team and I were ready,” said event planner Shane Philipsen, who also recalled the growing pandemic worries that had started to shut down events across the state.
“After a lot of consideration, we made the call on Wednesday morning to postpone. All the planning which was now complete and ready to go live, turned into contacting every vendor, entertainer, staff, volunteer, contractor and supplier to hit the ‘Stop’ button. I’m not good at retreating, so it me pretty hard. … We work with so many amazing people on this event and I felt terrible for them all.”
Fast forward to March 2023: Irish on Ionia is back.
What’s billed as Michigan’s biggest St. Patrick’s Day street party gets uncorked for the first time in four years at 10 a.m. Saturday and runs through 10 p.m., with performances by more than a dozen bands and DJs, as well as the Motor City Irish Dancers.
Nearly 18,000 people flooded Irish on Ionia back in 2018. This year, Philipsen just hopes to “get this event back on the map. Let’s give everyone the feeling they once had and gain some new fans in the process.”
Hosted by HopCat, general admission tickets for the day-long celebration are $25 and available online here. VIP (Very Irish Person) tickets cost $65 and include fast-pass gate entry, a T-shirt, beer mug and drinking gloves. There’s also a $15 “After Dark” entry pass for those joining the party after 7 p.m.
Entertainment starts at noon with DJ Dolce on the main stage and Troy Celtic duo Ironwood at the Irish Jig tent. Other Irish music-hued acts performing during the street party include CrossBow, Wakefire and Leprecons.
“We’re just playing happy music. It’s good, high-energy,” said Steve Lesko, fiddler for CrossBow, which plays the main stage at 1:15 p.m. and the Irish Jig Tent at 4:30 p.m.
The band – which boasts musicians from across Michigan – also will debut its rendition of KT Tunstall’s “Black Horse and The Cherry Tree” on Saturday, after asking CrossBow fans to vote on the next cover song the group should play.
Philipsen credited DJ Todd Ernst and Bill Lynch (Liam the Giant Leprechaun) for helping procure an impressive roster of DJs and performers for the return of Irish on Ionia.
That talent includes Sean Boney, who’s played every Irish on Ionia since 2012 and will travel to Grand Rapids from Florida to play the Saturday street party.
Ticket sales have been strong, Philipsen said, and while Saturday’s weather forecast calls for some snow and temperatures in the 20s, he insisted that “our fan base is ready for anything” when it comes to weather.
“The excitement is alive and well here in Grand Rapids for our 10-year anniversary,” he said.
Irish on Ionia is sponsored by Skymint Premium Cannabis and 104.5 SNX/Mojo in the Morning.
LOCAL SPINS TICKET GIVEAWAY: Email email@example.com with “IRISH ON IONIA” in the message field by 5 p.m. today (Thursday) and your name will be placed in a drawing for two tickets to Saturday’s festival.
Check out past Local Spins coverage and photos from Irish on Ionia.
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