Celtic Festival and Highland Games of the Quad Cities



2016 Performers

  Friday (9/16/16), 7 pm - 9 pm, Main Stage
Saturday (9/17/16), 3 pm - 4:30 pm, Main Stage
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The unique sound of traditional Manx music is the Celtic World's best kept secret. This is set to change with the introduction of Barrule, the award winning trio hellbent on taking the Isle of Man's music to a much wider audience.

Named after the famous Manx summit where legend says the ancient Celtic God Manannan MacLir stalked his mighty fortress, Barrule fuses three distinct musical forces – gifted fiddle-player Tomas Callister, accordion wizard Jamie Smith (of Mabon) and versatile accompanist Adam Rhodes (Mabon and Manx band King Chiaullee) on bouzouki. Together this versatile acoustic unit creates a powerful and wholly distinctive sound.

With bold but sensitive arrangements, the trio presents a fresh take on traditional and contemporary Manx music. While sharing common ground with its Celtic cousins, as well as the English tradition, Manx music has retained its own particular and inherent Manxness: an atmosphere evoked by the music that speaks of the natural beauty of the island and the lives of its inhabitants.

Champagne Academy of Irish Dance
  Saturday (9/17/16), 1:30 pm - 2 pm, Dance Stage
Saturday (9/17/16), 3:30 pm - 4 pm, Dance Stage 
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2013-Champagne-Web.jpg   Champagne Academy of Irish Dance is a performing Irish dance school located in Iowa City, Iowa with lessons for both children and adults. Though a new school, they have already had the pleasure to work with both local and international performers such as: The Beggarmen, PaddyMac, Lunasa, Gaelic Storm, Cara Butler, and The Chieftains.
Colleen's Clogging and Celtic
   Saturday (9/17/16), 2:30 pm - 3 pm, Dance Stage

Colleen's Clogging & Celtic (C3) is a group of dancers who perform the beautiful, fun, and energizing styles of Irish Step Dance, Scottish Sword Dance and American Clogging. They perform at many festivals and events throughout the year around Midwest.

  Friday (9/16/16), 3 pm - 4:30 pm, Main Stage
Saturday (9/17/16), 5 pm - 6:30 pm, Main Stage
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Front man Victor McMullan grew up singing with his friends in the pubs of Northern Ireland, and he understands that when people spend their hard-earned money on a night out, they want to have a good time; they want to laugh, sing, and be part of the show. For a decade, Exorna has been leaving people with smiles on their faces, playing music that is authentic and down to earth, singing songs loaded with humor and sentimentality, fiddlling tunes Irish dancers can dance to, and doing it all on traditional instruments. Victor and his crew are keeping alive a truly vanishing art form, and have practiced their craft at pubs, festivals, wakes, public television, and everywhere in between!

ISU Celtic Dance Society
  Saturday (9/17/16), 11:30 am - 12 pm, Dance Stage
Saturday (9/17/16), 1 pm - 1:30 pm, Dance Stage
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 2016-ISU-Celtic-Dance-Society.jpg   The Iowa State University Celtic Dance Society is a student organization dedicated to teaching the traditional dancing styles of Scottish country, Irish ceili, and other dances of the Brittish Isles.
Laural Almquist
  Saturday (9/17/16), 2 pm - 2:30 pm, Dance Stage
Saturday (9/17/16), 3 pm - 3:30 pm, Dance Stage
Saturday (9/17/16), 4 pm - 4:30 pm, Dance Stage 



Laural first heard the harp when she was 4 while in Chicago. Instantly there was a connection. She told her grandma that someday "she wanted to play angel wing music". She started playing at the age of 10.

Don't let this 15 year old fool you. She is becoming an accomplished Harpist. Laural plays at Churches, Senior Citizen Centers, Local libraries, The Coffee House for the Arts Council, Nursing Homes and Weddings. She has played in numerous Talent Shows this summer. Her most recent talent show was at the Illinois State Fair. She placed third among some very talented musicians. She also plays representing her school at State Events. Last year, Laural auditioned for IMEA, and competed against several other harpists and got the role as Harpist in an advanced Student Orchestra.
She can be seen at the Bishop Hill Bakery playing in the many wonderful festivals Bishop Hill has to offer. Her highlight of last year was performing five Christmas Shows at Northwoods Community Church with over 25,000 attendants, performing with famous artists, and playing in The Celtic Festival and Highland Games of the Quad cities. Her highlight of 2015 so far was producing her first CD, which is currently being edited and polished.

  Saturday (9/17/16), 9 am - 10:30 am, Main Stage

The band Lilywren is a group of 4-6 people that plays traditional Celtic music on a wide variety of instruments from hurdy-gurdys to bodhrans.

They started playing in Mount Vernon 3 years ago under the name Celtic Mosh Pit. There are four core members (plus an occasional hammer dulcimer player) who play fiddle, guitar, flute, bouzouki, bodhran, hurdy gurdy, mandolin, banjo, and tin whistle. Their music is a mixture of traditional music from the British Isles and beyond.

Mayer School of Irish Dance
  Saturday (9/17/16), 4:30 pm - 5 pm, Dance Stage
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2013-Mayer-Web.jpg   Brother and sister, John and Mary Mayer, started the Mayer School of Irish Dancing in 1980. The school consisted of about 5 students dancing in the basement of a house in Northwest Chicago. Today the Mayer School of Irish Dancing has over 250 students in 4 states - Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Missouri. Our dancers perform at many functions throughout the year, such as festivals, weddings, nursing homes, sporting events and many more. Many of our students actively compete as well - at the local, National and International levels. We are proud to say that our dancers have won regional and national titles, as well as place at the World Championships each year.
The Beggarmen
  Saturday (9/17/16), 11 am - 12:30 pm, Main Stage

The Beggarmen have been known as one of the region’s best Irish music ensembles for over a decade.   Since their first performance at a small pub in Iowa, the band has gone on to headline at folk festivals and concert halls throughout the Midwest, greeting audiences with their unique style of Irish folk music.  The Beggarmen features Brad Pouleson, Keith Reins, Tara McGovern, and Joe Dutcher.

The Gothard Sisters
   Saturday (9/17/16), 1 pm - 2:30 pm, Main Stage
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Over the course of nearly 1,000 shows since they formed as a Celtic band in 2006, The Gothard Sisters – who are truly sisters – have become internationally recognized as multi-instrumentalist Celtic-influenced folk musicians, songwriters, and performers from the Pacific Northwest, USA.

Regularly performing more than 120 shows a year, the Gothard Sisters have built a loyal following by connecting with audiences in a lively, entertaining and touching way. In 2013, the Irish Music Awards presented the Gothard Sisters with Best New Irish Artist, and they were awarded with Album of the Year for Celtic Radio in 2011 for their album Story Girl. In addition to their musical endeavors, each of the sisters are highly trained in competitive Irish dance, bringing the heart-pounding rhythms of Ireland to their live shows for a dynamic surprise to keep the audience at the edge of their seats.

The Gothard Sisters pay respect to old traditions with folk instruments, while infusing them with a radiant joy and reintroducing them through beautiful new arrangements. Although much of the sisters’ inspiration comes with a distinct Celtic flair, hints of their western American heritage can be heard in what Irish Central calls “an earthiness that gives the songs a lively, approachable, down-home sound.” Firmly rooted in Classical and Folk music from a young age, Greta, Willow and Solana Gothard have each developed skills on multiple instruments to express their musical ideas. “We are on a never ending path of musical discovery,” says Greta Gothard. “Where will it lead? Anywhere is fine with me as long as we stay true to ourselves and our authentic style.” “What I love about Celtic music is how it is filled with such hope,” says Willow Gothard. “Even though the songs may be about low or difficult times, there is always that underlying optimism that is completely infectious and lifts the spirits. It’s wonderful!”

The Gothard Sisters operate independently of any music label, preferring a DIY approach in self-producing their award-winning albums, energetic live shows and imaginative music videos. In March 2015, their music video covering Simon & Garfunkel’s classic song, Scarborough Fair, reached over 1 million views on Youtube.

   Friday (9/16/16), 5 pm - 6:30 pm, Main Stage 
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Meaning trip or journey in Gaelic, Turas is, a journey of friends who gather to share songs, stories, and good times (what the Irish call craic).   Playing a wide variety of Irish/Celtic music, Turas never fails to deliver on good music and good times.  So sit back, draw yourself a pint, and join us in the journey.

Wylde Nept
   Saturday (9/17/16), 7 pm - 9 pm, Main Stage 
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Wylde Nept was started when a few of the guys found each other during a camping trip at a Celtic music festival and have been playing ever since. Their music, primarily inspired by traditional folk, is lively, fun and sure get your face smiling and foot tapping.

Seemingly with out effort this band is able to take a crowded room of people from all different back grounds and ages and transport them all to a different place. The music starts and people seem to forget about their daily problems and issues and raise a glass with someone they may or may not even know and begin to sing along to an Irish tune.


They have been called a folk band, rock band, and have even opened for Fog Hat once upon a time. But they don’t just perform the music, or try to re-create the songs how they may have originally been presented. Instead they capture the feeling behind the songs and do an incredible job at putting it to music and sucking in the audience.

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