The three-day Iowa Irish Fest opens Friday and is expected to draw nearly 50,000 visitors to Waterloo | Local News


Organizer Chad Shipman couldn’t be more excited.

“We have the best lineup we’ve ever had in 16 years of Iowa Irish Fest. We have so many new experiences to offer this year. The family space has grown. There are so many free things to do in the kids area. The whole festival will be a ton of fun. The Red Hot Chilli Pipers are back in the headliners on Friday, and the High Kings will close out the festival on Sunday,” he said.

Lincoln Park is packed with people sitting in lawn chairs watching the 2021 Iowa Irish Fest stage in Waterloo.

CHRIS ZOELLER, Courier Staff Photographer

A full range of activities, performances, events and workshops will take place in Lincoln Park and around downtown Waterloo during the outdoor gathering. “We are more than just a music and beer festival. Iowa Irish Fest is actually a cultural event,” Shipman noted.



Organized by the Cedar Valley Irish Culture Association, the group encourages and develops Irish brotherhood and community awareness. Shipman credits the festival’s success to broad community support.

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“We have strong corporate support with 80 companies and corporate partners. If it wasn’t fun and successful, they wouldn’t partner with us. It’s a closed event, a premium festival. There are costs involved, and the festival is well managed financially to be able to come back year after year and continue to develop and grow,” he explained.

As well as entertainment, food, drink, sports, games, dancing, competitions and special events – including a bike rally, 5k run and motorbike cruise – there are many workshops to attend.

Audiences can experience all things Irish, from language, music and dance to the best places to visit in Ireland, its history, and enjoy Irish whiskey and Guinness beers through tastings and master classes. Workshops start on Friday and are offered throughout the weekend. For a full list and registration details, visit

“The workshops have been an important addition to our mission over the past few years. Some workshops this year are already full or almost full. And there are so many different elements that take place over the three days of the festival,” Shipman said.

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The Red Hot Chilli Pipers headline Friday’s Iowa Irish Fest.

Over 20 additional top musical artists will take part in the three-day multi-stage event including: The Screaming Orphans, The Dublin City Ramblers, Ian Gould, Blame Not the Bard, Brother Crowe, Scythian, The Black Donnellys, Peadar Hickey and Langer’s Ball.

Also in attendance will be The Elders, Socks in the Frying Pan, the Logues, Aoife Scott, Boxing Banjo, Shane Hennessey, the Friel Sisters, the Lads of Dubuque, Ballyheigue, Wylde Nept, Kellen O’Cullom and Cedar Glenn Pipes and Drums.

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High Kings will wrap up the Iowa Irish Fest next Sunday.

A variety of other artists, including Celtic dancers and traditional Irish musicians, will also be on stage.

Additionally, the Iowa Irish Fest will host the USS The Sullivans DD537/DDG68 reunion, beginning Thursday. The Sullivans is named for the five Sullivan brothers of Waterloo – Albert, George, Francis, Joseph and Madison – who were killed in action when their light cruiser USS Juneau was hit by a torpedo and sank in the South Pacific around the 13 November 1942. , during the Battle of Guadalcanal in World War II.

More volunteers are still needed, Shipman said, and they will receive perks including a three-day pass and a t-shirt. To become a volunteer, register on

General admission weekend passes are $30 available at, or admission can be paid at the door. Eligible veterans, active duty military, first responders and their families can request complimentary tickets at Where, or show ID at the door. Youth 15 and under are free.

An official Irish Fest app is available for download from the Apple App Store and Google Play.


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