On the one hand, according to the fledgling festival’s About Us page online, the Celtic Bayou Festival is about “preserving and celebrating all aspects of Irish, Irish American and other Celtic cultures while instilling an appreciation of this heritage in current and future generations.”
On the same hand, the Celtic Bayou Festival, now in its second year, is also about family, fun, music, dancing and food — just like any local festival — and it is set for Friday and Saturday (March 10-11) at Parc Putnam in Downtown Lafayette.
“We wanted to keep it Downtown,” says Tony Davoren, who with his wife, Sheila, co-founded the CBF. “We’re very much into the idea of having this as a Downtown festival.”
The ticketed festival debuted last year at Warehouse 535. A wedding at the facility this time around prompted the Davorens to seek another venue, hence Parc Puntam.
“It’s almost like a redo because we’ve got a new place to do it,” Tony Davoren notes. “We had to start from scratch again.”
But the game plan, albeit enhanced, will look familiar. There’s the Friday Night Crawfish Boil at 6 p.m. (pre-order a must), along with The Ryan School of Irish Dance and the Irish/Cajun band, Celjun. Gumbo will be for sale, too.
CBF gets going Saturday morning at 9 with the Green Mile Pub Crawl. The overall festival itself, however, doesn’t get started until 11:45 a.m.
“We’re going to take a trip up and down Jefferson Street, stop in a few places, have a few drinks, sing some songs,” Davoren says.
The festival gets down to a crucial part of its mission “to promote and preserve the Irish culture in younger generations” with the Tír na Nóg (Land of the Young) tent where kids activities are planned as well as dance workshops (American Step Dance, Scottish Highland Dancing and Irish Dancing/performances.
With that in mind, the Young Musicians Irish Music Competition returns and there’ll also be Irish crafts & games, face painting and an Irish Folklore Story —Time Show (for all ages).
Music, of course, is the lifeblood of any fête and the Celtic Bayou Festival is no different.
“We’re trying to have a balance between local Celtic music to give them a place to play regularly — there are not too many places for an Irish or Celtic band to play in Louisiana — and definitely not at a quality festival,” adds Davoren.
The line-up includes Lafayette’s Farouche, Celjun and Rayo Brothers, the latter which are “doing kind of a crossover mix — something for the younger folks — and also to connect bands to the Celtic vibe,” says Davoren. “They’re playing a lot of Old Time and bluegrass and some Irish tunes.”
You can expect Baton Rouge’s Whitfield Fair and The Here & Now from Austin.
“They play really good modern Irish music like traditional Irish tunes and songs,” Davoren says. “They’re going to be exciting.”
Also scheduled are J.P. Murphy, The Red Wellies, Reel Treble, Smithfield Fair, Whiskey Bay Rovers and Beirt le Ceile.
Next year, Davoren would like to have more of an international presence on the music side of things.
“We’re going to hopefully focus on Quebec, Cape Breton, or maybe even France,” he says. “I think that would be starting place to build on the Celtic momentum. We can get our Irish bands and Scottish bands here in the states, but I’d like to bring down a good Quebecois band. I think that would really kind of make sense and give people an idea of the connection we’re trying to build.”
“It’s all relative and it’s all Celtic and it’s all part of the diaspora,” he says.
The festival’s classic façade for the Bailey’s Irish Pub is back as well as Saturday’s Guinness Cook-Off/Bailey’s Bake-Off. A raffle for a trip to Ireland will be held.
“I’m very excited for it. We are bigger. We have more sponsorship. We have more events, more bars, more activities, more bands — we’re just bigger,” Shelia Davoren gushes. “Everything is bigger and it’s going to be better. If we can make it better.”
Tickets are $10 Friday (not including crawfish); $15 Saturday. A two-day pass is $20; and a VIP pass, $100. More info: [email protected]
For tickets, click here.
To volunteer, go here.