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Howdy ...Frae Dallas.

Posted by Sharon Armstrong on Thu, 03/04/2010 - 23:20

You know, isn’t it always the way?

Just when you think that your ol’ beat-up car is up to the task of getting from New Orleans to Dallas, it looks you straight in the eye, snickers, and then refuses to start. Travel plans are indeed made to test us.

However, all is not lost, and as all seasoned festival goers know, that last minute scramble is all part of the fun - kind of like crashing on folk’s floors, and giving all those strange new beers a go.

My destination this weekend is the North Texas Irish Festival, one of the best-known, and best-loved Celtic music festivals, both in the Lone Star State, and beyond...

The NTIF takes place every year deep in the heart of Dallas at the sprawling 277-acre Fair Park, which is located just off Interstate 30 on Robert Cullum Boulevard. Fair Park was the site of 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition, and is the only intact and unaltered pre-50’s world fair site still remaining in the United States. It also claims the world’s largest collection of Art Deco exhibit buildings, art and sculpture. It is enormous, kind of like the North Texas Irish Festival itself.

In America, I often hear the term ‘Irish music’ being used as a blanket term for many other types of traditional Celtic music - you learn to either let it slide, or you find yourself in the kind of long and involved conversations regarding ethnicity that I, for one, would rather avoid during festivals. They always take too long, and cut too deeply into the available beer time. However, in the tradition of the best of the American Irish festivals, this year the NTIF will also play host to Traditional, and not-so-Traditional musicians from places all over the world - including Nova Scotia, Ireland, Scotland, New Founderland, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

Since its relatively humble beginnings in 1983 as the First Texas Ceili, the NTIF is now, according to NTIF PR Jim Miller, the fourth biggest Irish festival in America. It is estimated that it attracts over 40,000 people to Dallas every year.

“This is our 28th year,” Jim said. “And it just seems to grow even bigger every year.”

Ed Miller

This year the International Performers include the south-western Irish group Sliabh Notes, the David Munnelly Band, the Barra MacNeils, the wonderful Acadian group Vishtèn, Gadelle, Grand Dérangement, Great Big Sea and Edinburgh’s very own prodigal son Ed Miller.

Joining in the fun from the State-side perspective with be the Tulsa-based band Crossroads, the musically-diverse trio Tullamore, sea-shanty singers Trinity River Whalers, the Mississippi-based traditional Irish music group Legacy, and relative newcomers 5 Second Rule, who with their fearless mix of Celtic, Bluegrass and Cajun styles are definitely on my list of who to see. All this, and a plethora of vendors and artisans ready and willing to sell you things that you never knew you needed. What a way to spend a weekend!

So for me the fun starts at 6pm on Friday March 5, car-willing, and goes on right through the weekend. I will be here for the full three days, and I will be doing my best to cover as much as I can, and pass it on to Living Tradition readers, both at home in Scotland, and here in the States.

Wish me luck, cross those Toyota Corolla fingers, and, if you've time, keep an eye on this space.