The Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival was launched in McGing's Bar, Westport, on Friday night last, May 17. The festival, now in its seventh year, will run over three days on the weekend of June 14 to 16. This year it will feature some 15 local, national, and international acts, including local band The Rocky Top String Band; Cork-based folk singer John Spillane; The Bluegrass Boogiemen from Holland; and 'The Queen of Banjo', Roni Stoneman from Nashville, who will be supported by fellow US act, Tumbling Bones.
Officially launching the festival, Cathaoirleach of Westport Town Council Ollie Gannon thanked its chairperson, Uri Kohen, and his festival committee for once again pulling together an impressive line-up and exciting few days of music and culture in Westport. "Westport Town Council is very much committed to this festival," he said, "one of the major festivals in our calendar year. This festival has grown from strength to strength and is now a very important festival for Westport, it brings quite a number of people into the town, creating jobs and maintaining existing jobs, and so the council is delighted to be associated with it. The Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival is now recognised as one of the major bluegrass festivals in the country. I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of Westport Town Council, to congratulate Uri and his committee on the outstanding work that they have been doing, I would like to assure Uri that the council is committed to this festival, that we will put our hands deep in our pockets again come next year, and that we will maintain – if not increase – the support that we gave this year and previous years." The Cathaoirleach's speech was followed by a lively night of music, courtesy of Sonnyboy and The White Owls – a bluegrass band from Hawaii that had an appreciative crowd on their feet until late.