KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A pair of popular Labor Day weekend festivals will return this year after a year hiatus.
Kansas City Irish Fest opens at 5 p.m. Friday and runs through Sunday night. SantaCaliGon Days kicks off at noon Friday running through 5 p.m. Labor Day.
Combined the events usually attract well over 100,000 visitors.
Organizers point out those crowds are spread out over several days in large outdoor spaces.
Crews at the 19th annual Irish Fest were busy Thursday night putting the finishing touches on stage and seating areas. Hundreds of vendors also loaded in for the first time since 2019.
“We like being here. We’re back Kansas City, we’re back,” Terry Kast, co-owner of Celtic Ranch, exclaimed.
Kast has been selling merchandise at the event for 18 years, only missing last year.
“As much as we had fun with the fest where you are concept it wasn’t the same it wasn’t Irish Fest. So to be back together on these grounds again is incredible. I think the energy is going to be amazing all weekend,” Erin Gabert said.
The festival has eliminated indoor areas and mainstreamed children’s activities to try to keep unvaccinated smaller children apart. International acts from Ireland couldn’t make the trip, but there will still be plenty of music on multiple stages Friday through Sunday, including Gaelic Storm and Enter the Haggis.
Signs encourage mask wearing in seated areas around the main stage. Signs at the gate also encourage unvaccinated guests to wear masks.
At SantiCaligon Days, Little Texas and Sawyer Brown highlight the four day event. COVID-19 ushered in some minor changes.
“On some of our areas where we used to have fenced in areas, the beer garden, we really opened those up to allow people to spread out have some space social distance as much as possible. We think even with big crowds, we’re still going to be able to keep people safe,” Tom Lesnak said.
Chad Collins has traveled to about 20 festivals across the country this year selling his pottery. He said from what he’s seen, don’t be surprised if the crowds are as big as ever.
“Everywhere I’ve gone people have wanted to be outside they’ve been hungry to come out and do stuff,” Collins said.
“Everyone that is a part of this is just feeling the same way as our staff and committee. They are just excited and happy that even though we are very aware that our world is not back to normal again, this at least feels we’re coming home again to the Irish Fest,” Gabert said.
SantaCaliGon Days is free to attend. Irish Fest tickets at the gate are $20 Friday and $25 Saturday and Sunday.
Kansas City Renaissance Fest also kicks off Saturday running through Oct. 17.