Joy in Westport with the return of the folk and bluegrass festival

Organizers of the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival said RTE Entertainment that it is “beyond emotional” to welcome crowds back to Mayo Town this week after two years of online-only events due to the pandemic.

The festival begins this Friday and is seen as a curtain raiser to Westport’s summer tourist season.

Fifteen artists from Ireland, UK, Germany, Czech Republic and USA will perform at the festival.

Pub concerts, concerts, workshops, a gospel hour and a square dance are part of the party from June 10 to 12.

Festival founder, local resident Uri Kohen, said RTE Entertainment that from humble beginnings the festival has grown to “welcome musicians and music fans from all over the world”.

“At first we were just ‘a bunch of crazy people with beards, hats and banjos'”, he laughed.

“But as we proved time and time again that we could fill the city with color and sound, we started to gain support from the city as a whole.

“The ten halls that host the concerts mark the festival as one of the major events on their calendar.

“Accommodators – big and small – are using the event as a curtain raiser for the tourist season and with 40% of our audience coming from overseas, it’s a significant boost for the city.”

“The artists were eager to come back and perform live music in front of live crowds,” he said of this year’s festival.

“We revisited some of the previous artists’ contracts and approached other artists we wanted and they all happily accepted our offers.”

As he makes final preparations, Uri Kohen can’t wait to reunite with some familiar faces after years apart.

“Here at our festival, we know most of the spectators by their first names and we are all one big family,” he continued.

“We can’t wait to see them all again and see the city lit up with the sights and sounds of folk and bluegrass music.

“Each of the acts that have played here over the years have given us both musical and social moments that we will never forget.”

“It’s beyond emotional,” he concluded.

“This event is my dream, to which I have devoted most of the last 16 years – and my family and my committee are helping me achieve my dream.

“The people of the city and the companies are very supportive, which is worth it.”

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