The Dayton Celtic Festival regularly brings about 100,000 people together in RiverScape MetroPark to celebrate Celtic culture. But this year the event, like many other events, has been cancelled thanks to COVID-19.

“It was a really hard decision. We are completely volunteer based… so everybody is doing this out of their heart,” says Steve Baldwin, marketing chair of the festival. “We were already eight, 10 months into planning, and then to pull the plug… that was hard. It wasn’t something we took lightly.”

However, this doesn’t mean the United Irish of Dayton, the fraternal organization that hosts the Dayton Celtic Festival each year, is taking a break.

According to Baldwin, the festival brings people from throughout the country and the world to the Miami Valley and they want it to continue to do so next year and beyond. “We are still implementing our advertising and marketing spend, so we’re trying to keep the awareness of the festival up,” he says. “Trying to keep our name out there and make sure people understand what’s going on.”

The festival committee has also taken this time to get a jump start on next year’s festival.

“Each year’s event is usually 18 months in the planning,” says Baldwin. “With this year’s break, it’s actually given us a head start to sort of double down on 2021. We’re expecting big things and a super exciting comeback if you will in 2021.”

Even though the festival is a year away, the committee is working with artists who were supposed to perform this year in hopes of bringing them in for 2021 instead.

And while it is unfortunate that the festival can’t take place this year, Baldwin says they’re focusing only on making next year into something special. “The Celtic Festival is sort of our biggest opportunity to share culture and entertainment with our community,” he says. “We’re all about, ‘Hey we’re coming back bigger, better and stronger.’”