We put on our Irish and headed to the Festival. We always go on opening night because you can get in free if you are through the gates of Fair Park before 7 pm. This particular evening was COLD! Cold and dark – night falls by 6:30 in early March, and we strolled shivering through the gate into an explosion of music.
Sometimes when we go to an entertaining event we just have empty pockets and make it clear upfront that we won’t be buying anything, which helps a little as you pass booth after tempting booth of food and fun. Lean times are good times, too.
Which can make the fat times all the sweeter… James started the evening announcing that he had gotten plenty of coupons, and probably everyone could enjoy a treat this year. Woo-hoo!
The children started out in the bouncehouse to get their blood moving while their chilly parents watched from without.
One of the best things about the Irish Festival is that everyone brings their dogs. This was Lily’s first time in a place with so many dogs and humans, as evidenced by her paroxysms of excitement as the night wore on. James kept her on a tight leash.
Several dog societies have booths there, including the Irish Wolfhound and Irish Setter. The Wolfhounds are lovely, enormous dogs with curly wooly fur perfect for burying your hands in. You cannot imagine Lily’s ferocious joy when faced with a dog three times her own size! Her wriggling prevented pictures – Helen was similarly thrilled but less wriggly.
The first band we sat down to was a tight-knit group of enthusiastic lads playing WILD reels and jigs. They had Uilleann pipes (the small bagpipe-looking thing), and the fiddler and guitarist sounded born to play together.
Towards the end of a really driving song, they all stood up on their chairs – while playing! – and whaled out the last stanzas of the song, many of them thumping away with their feet even as they played. Such energy! Music like gasps of life.
There were more generous Daddy treats between songs! (Not pictured are the parents with Guiness in hand.)
Other bands crooned and piped and fiddled as we walked through the buildings. Inside the twin buildings that house all of the cars during the State Fair are alternating small stages which hold rotating musical groups, and lines of booths and vendors. So you walk, look, listen, and buy.
Each of the girls was allowed to choose a trinket and they found heart-shaped necklaces in pink crystal and amber. Corrie said she was getting a heart for remembering Lu. (Notice the handsome man in the attractive Irish hat that his wife made him buy behind them.)
So it was a good festival. (Amos was transformed by his wooden sword into a terrifying Celtic warrior, obviously.)
It was hard to go: all the way up until the end of the day I was despondantly unable to make up my mind about whether or not we should. Sometimes you just feel too sad to listen to happy music. Last year we attended while Lu was at home with Aunt Jenn, and we didn’t know how close she was to the end of her life with us. The mix of life and death is so intense and hard sometimes you just want to avoid it altogether. If avoiding doing things keeps you closer to numb, then simple, uneventful stretches of time can give you space for grief and healing to mirror life and death.
But I think in the end we were glad we went. It helped to acknowledge to each other that we were sad and we missed her. When you respect your feelings and put them in the open it kind of gives you permission to feel other things, too, and we could take honest pleasure in each other and the music. And the Irish are good at getting tears and laughter out of the same gig. Go Irish. – Katie