Traditional Irish festival ‘Sligofest’ returns this weekend after pandemic hiatus

SLIGO, Mo. – The tiny town of Sligo nestled in northeastern Dent County will see the return of its one-and-only Irish heritage festival known as “Sligofest” this Saturday, March 18, the day after St. Patrick’s Day. 

The annual festival was originated and organized by Jenny Waites and Vivian Fritzinger 20 years ago to help support the Sligo community building, the Sligo United Methodist Church and to celebrate the community. COVID-19 put a stop to the fun, and the duo stepped down and announced the end of Sligofest in 2021. 

Despite full-time work, college schedules and farm work, E.J. Schulke and his wife Ashley are taking the reins and have decided to revive the festival, with Waites and Fritzinger by their side. E.J. says nothing will change for this year’s Sligofest, and he hopes to keep the tradition alive without many struggles.

“It did really good before. You don’t need to mess with a good thing if it works really good,” Schulke told The Heartlander. “It’s a nice weekend out.”

Attendees can expect the usual music, games, crafts, vendors and more. The menu maintains its traditional Irish flavor with all-you-can-eat reuben sandwiches, corned beef, cabbage, multiple desserts and drinks. 

“As it stands right now we have plenty of vendors coming in. Our biggest thing is trying to make sure we get plenty of people coming because we’ve got a lot of food,” Schulke said with a laugh.

Schulke says locals have been expressing their gratitude for the return of Sligofest.

As for the town itself and its Irish heritage, Irish descendents are said to have migrated from Sligo County, Ireland, in the province of Connacht to Sligo, Missouri during the building of the iron ore blast furnace run by the Sligo Furnace Company in the 1800s. 

Visitors have historically traveled all the way from Sligo County, Ireland, to attend Sligofest in the Show-Me State. In an October 2021 interview with The Salem News Online, Waites said people also have come from surrounding states to experience the Irish-driven festival.

Sligofest will be at the Sligo United Methodist Church from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. The festival is free. For an all-you-can-eat meal, the price tag is $10 per adult and kids 5-12 are $4. Kids 4 years or younger eat free. 

Proceeds will benefit Sligo United Methodist Church and the Sligo Community Building. 

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