Blues Insights was out and about downtown Kansas City on Saturday where fountains flowed bright green in honor of the 2017 Kansas City Irish Fest.
Bagpipers warmed up their pipes in the parking garage, confirming for (or warning) visitors that they had arrived at the right location if they were looking for all-things-Irish just up ahead.
On the outside, walls of tall fencing stretched for blocks, surrounding three levels of pure fun from concerts to beer gardens to shops and more entertainers – all on a beautiful, balmy Labor Day weekend opening to the month of September.
On the inside, the ballrooms in the Crown Center hotel hosted Irish dance contests where young laddies and young lassies shuffled their feet outside the hallways as they prepared for their turn in the competitions, the girls with their crowns laden with bouncing curls above their determined faces.
As luck would have it, I got to meet a one such dance competitor, Meagan Bowler, 10, who was outside Crown Center in front of (one of the many) green fountains having her picture taken by her mother, Cate Bowler. Meagan had just competed and won first place in each of her three rounds – and ended up winning 1st place in the under 12 age group for Open Champ dancers at the Kansas City Feis.
“The first thing she did was grab her new friend Claire, from an opposing school, to stand on top of the podium with her for a picture,” said her mother Cate. “That’s what’s great about the sport…meeting new people from different states…competing against each other, but also making friends with them. That is something Meagan’s [dance] teacher instills in all the kiddos at the Clark Academy – good sportsmanship.”
Bowler has only been dancing for two years. Her friend Manuel Meneses, 9, won first in Under 11 Preliminary Champ. According to Meagan’s mother Cate Bowler, Open Champ is the highest level in Irish Dance. Preliminary Champ is the second highest level. The Bowlers and Manuel attend the The Clark Academy of Irish Dance St. Louis.
Bowler said Meagan’s costume was made in Ireland where each costume is custom created for each dancer. The costume arrived two weeks ago and was just finished with final touches of tailoring one week ago.