By Nancy King – The Cape Breton Post
Cape Breton will be in the spotlight at annual Irish Fest
Cape Breton artists and institutions dominate the roster that Nova
Scotia is sending to the world’s largest Irish festival this week.
Nova Scotia is billed as the featured attraction at the annual
Milwaukee Irish Fest, which begins today and continues until Sunday.
The province’s contingent includes Cape Breton performers Beolach, The
Cottars, J.P. Cormier, Jerry Holland, Mary Jane Lamond and Buddy
MacDonald, who will perform individually during the day and will
collaborate for kitchen parties each night. Other Cape Breton groups
which will be represented at the festival are Ryan MacNeil of MacNeil
Woodwinds, Celtic Colours International Festival, Nova Scotia Gaelic
College, Judique Celtic Music Interpretive Centre and the Nova Scotia
Highland Village Museum.
“The biggest thing is the scale of the Milwaukee event,” said Max
MacDonald, festival director with Celtic Colours, who is making the
trip along with artistic director Joella Foulds.
“They have 130,000 admissions over a four-day period. It’s a potential
niche market, certainly for our festival, or the Highland Village, or
the Gaelic College. Clearly, if these people are purchasing tickets to
an Irish festival, they may be interested in what we have to offer.”
On the festival’s website, it’s noted that Nova Scotia, particularly
Cape Breton, is world-renowned for its musicians, singers and
For MacDonald it will be a return trip to the festival and he noted a
complimentary relationship is developing between directors there and
his own event.
“Their directors have been up here a number of times, some will be back
this year,” he says. “The events are very different but we both see
there are opportunities by being involved together.”
For artists, not only are they exposed to a large American audience but
they also grab the ears of directors from other festivals from around
North America who attend looking for new talent to book, MacDonald
The musicians, artisans and cultural representatives will be
accompanied by Tourism, Culture and Heritage Minister Len Goucher, as
the province looks to develop export markets for cultural products and
to attract visitors with interest in Celtic culture.
The festival is identified in a industry-government tourism plan as one
of three new places to target tourism marketing this year.
“I think it’s really positive that tourism in the province is looking
at the cultural sector as a way to help build tourism in the province,”
As the main attraction, the province has a large cluster of booths,
dubbed a “cultural village” that will be swathed in Nova Scotia tartan
and full-colour images of scenery.
Nova Scotia’s contingent will also include, from the mainland, artisan
Kathi Giberman of Patternworks, musician Dave Gunning, the Atlantic
Craft Trade Show, Music Nova Scotia, and Royal Nova Scotia
Copyright © 2007 Cape Breton Post