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An Ri Ra Irish Festival

Butte's Tiernan Irish Dancers kick up their heels during the An Ri Ra Irish Festival. The event celebrating the Irish heritage and culture in Butte is Aug. 9-11 and features authors, musicians, dancers as well as language workshops, lectures and lots of events for kids.

Butte-Silver Bow has proposed a new operating agreement with the organizers of the annual An Ri Ra Irish Festival in Butte.

The agreement outlines the duties and responsibilities the county and Montana Gaelic Cultural Society and An Ri Ra Organizing Committee have for staging the event, which will be free this year. The festival, set Aug. 8-10, will also move to the Original Mine Yard venue from its previous Park Street location.

The county sought a similar new agreement with past organizers of Evel Knievel Days, but it did not materialize. That group cut ties with the event amid controversy and disputes over the event’s management and control.

Chief Executive Matt Vincent and Parks Director E. Jay Ellington say they are seeking individual agreements with all festivals that receive tax dollars from the county in hopes of gaining more accountability and stability.

The proposed pact for the An Ri Ra festival, which will go before Butte-Silver Bow commissioners for consideration on Wednesday, says the festival group will select entertainment for the event and do the marketing and promotion, among other things.

The county will provide tax dollars and other public money, equipment and services such as police, animal control and sanitary facilities, among other things.

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Brendan McDonough, director of the festival and a Butte-Silver Bow commissioner, said the event is free this year because sponsors felt that model would work better. Tickets ranged $15 per day in the past.

McDonough said the new operating agreement at Vincent’s request would help stabilize the event.

“It’s a great move in the right direction,” McDonough said.

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