One of Iowa’s largest Saint Patrick’s Day parades will wrap through downtown Des Moines starting at noon, followed by Irish food, music, dancing and culture at the State Historical Museum. Maureen Korte, the museum’s special projects director, expects today’s Irish Fest will draw in a crowd that’s anything but wee.
The nationally-recognized Barn Owl Band from Ames will be playing a host of instruments: the fiddle, guitar, mandolin, piano, accordion, flute, tin whistle, hammered dulcimer and upright bass. Patrick Phillips will be teaching Irish Language classes and about the culture of Ireland.
Lynn Alex, from the Office of the State Archaeologist in Iowa City, will present a virtual tour of archaeological sites in Viking and medieval Dublin, Ireland. Korte says people who attend the parade will be able to walk just a few blocks toward the state capitol to find the Historical Museum. She says there will be a wide variety of events from 1 to 4 P.M. and there’ll be plenty to occupy the senses.
More Irish music will feature the Aran Daughters, a harp and vocal duo which will play and sing songs in Gaelic on the third floor of the museum. The Foy Irish Dancers and the Foy School of Traditional Irish Dance will offer step-dancing classes. Elsewhere, the Flatland Ramblers Celtic/Old Time quartet will play a set of traditional Irish jigs, reels, waltzes and hornpipes on mandolin, banjo, fife, guitar, flute and cittern. Another highlight will be the MacKenzie Highlanders Pipe and Drum Corps.
Also, the State Historic Librarian will join a genealogist whose workshops will focus on tracing Irish heritage. Korte says the museum will present an American flag that features 37 stars and the Irish harp which was carried into battle during the Civil War by Iowans of Irish descent.
"The only time you can see this flag is on Saint Patrick’s Day," Korte says. "It is very delicate and the light ravages it so we only bring it out once a year. The MacKenzie Pipes and Drums will go upstairs, two abreast, with their drums and pipes, and behind them will be our Civil War reinactors and they will guard the flag for the day." The event is free and open to the public. For more information, see the State Historical Museum website .