As the organizers said, Forest Park is an old German town, with an Italian mayor, and now it’s hosting the Midwest version of “The Irish Got Talent.” Officially, this three-day music festival and competition is called the Midwest Fleadh Cheoil and it’s coming to town June 25-27.
Two local businesses with Irish ties – Healy’s Westside and Molly Malone’s – get credit for attracting this notable event. Sponsored by a union of musicians from Ireland, the entire purpose is to promote Irish music and culture across the globe. Those who place in the top two in any category will move forward to compete in the mother of all Fleadhs – which is held in County Cavan, near Dublin.
To offer some perspective, the only other such competition in North America will be held in New York City. So why Forest Park? Strong local interest on the part of the organizers. An openness to having fun and attracting new visitors on the part of the village government. Proximity to Chicago. And, say the organizers, after having the event sequestered in hotel ballrooms in places like Cleveland, they were looking for a venue that felt a little more like the small Irish town that hosts the finals. That’s why events will be held in local restaurants, a church, and, informally, on a stage along Madison Street. Expect Irish music to break out along the street, as the gathering of the musical clan commences in the days ahead.