This is an actual exchange I had with a new acquaintance:
"I'm going down to Irish Fest today."
"Cool! Are you Irish?"
This just struck me as the stupidest thing someone could ask me. Not because I'm a fiery-haired lass with more freckles than white and was wearing a "Kiss Me, I'm Irish" shirt, because I am not and was not (my fire comes from a bottle -- I think it's fairly obvious). It struck me as incredibly stupid because, well, let's consider this parallel exchange:
"I'm going to the Renaissance Festival today."
"Cool! Are you from the Renaissance?"
You see my problem.
Irish Fest is a big deal here -- in fact I believe it's the largest such fest in the country. Everyone goes to Irish Fest. This was why, even though I was loathe to spend the money, I went -- I knew if I didn't I would regret it because people talk about it a lot. So I went. It was fun!
On the way to the park, I discovered something amazing. People actually buy these things and use them! In public and everything! With excellent attention to spacing! And, with helmets!!
Once inside the park, the first thing I watched was a bunch of big (supposedly) Irish lads pullin' at each other with a big rope. I don't know which team won, because the rules to tug-of-war are apparently far more involved these days than they were at Camp Robinson.
I wanted to experience a traditional Irish lunch, but considering I hate corned beef and cabbage and beef stew, I settled for a generic British Isles-y alternative:
I'm really picky about my Irish music, but once I find what I like, I can barely contain myself. I was totally jammin' in my seat to Baal Tinne! You can download three of their songs for free here. I know it looks like they're just sitting sedately on the stage, but they were rockin'!
There were bands and dancers and readings everywhere you turned, food was bountiful if expensive, and the goods for sale were more varied than I'd expected. There was also a large display about genealogical DNA testing which I was, of course, very interested in but disappointed with. I'd like to see what kind of research there is that they didn't present.
Anyway, then there was a parade!
I had only one complaint the entire day. Now, anyone who knows me, knows that there is one thing I must aquire at any festival, fair, or otherwise that has food vendors: Funnel cake. I must have it. It doesn't even matter if I'm hungry or not, I must have me some funnel cake. THERE WERE NO FUNNEL CAKES AT IRISH FEST. None. And, kids, I looked. Now, I know funnel cakes are not traditional Irish fare. Nor are giant stuffed soft pretzels, and there were certainly enough of those. So I ate a cinnamon scone and pretended to be happy about it.
But, really, aside from that small disappointment, I had a lovely time at Irish Fest. Then I walked home (yes, before it got dark, dear) and started a new picasso potholder for someone very dear to me who had donated some of the thread to me and I promised I'd make her something with it in return.
I had a wonderfully full day! I feel like I'm really getting my money's worth with this city-livin' thing. I'm diggin' it.
Tomorrow I'm going to Marquette for orientation. And no, I'm not a French explorer. So don't ask.