Bellingham Irish Festival

Cayley vs. Cayley

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

After years of pretending to be her own booking agent and writing reviews of her own shows, Northwest-based fiddler, founder of the Bellingham Irish Festival, and highly qualified laptop owner Cayley Miranda Schmid has expanded her self-serving typing skills to include conducting her own interviews.

“It was nerve-wracking at first,” Schmid admitted. “I didn’t know if I had those homerun questions, you know? I wanted this interview to be personal, to get through to the real Cayley.”

Schmid: Thank you for taking the time to sit down with me today. I can only imagine that this is a very busy couple of weeks as you are preparing for the fifth annual world-famous Bellingham Irish Festival. Can you tell me a little bit about how you made the daring and mostly unpublicized decision to take this event online?

Schmid: To be honest, I wasn’t very interested in trying to host a virtual version of the Bellingham Irish Festival at first. Creating virtual replacements for the elements that make this in-person event special seemed like an impossible task. And ultimately, that’s because it is. But with a little soul searching, I realized what I really was going to miss about not having the festival this year was the life-affirming feeling of belonging to a vibrant and supportive community of musicians and music appreciators. This is, of course, based around the great scene that Bellingham residents have created, but also includes the extended community of friends and players who visit us here on special occasions. So this year’s festival is about maintaining that sense of community despite our physical separateness.

Schmid: So well put. What will attendees of the festival, this year dubbed the Bellingham Irish Festival, Virtually, actually be doing?

Schmid: We’ve decided to preserve three of the original programming elements that seemed the most suited to an online format. Music workshops are the biggest piece of the pie. These will take place throughout the weekend and are geared mostly toward advanced-beginner/intermediate/beginning-advanced instrument players, especially those that play melodies, who are interested in learning new tunes and techniques within (or adjacent to) the pan-Celtic genre.

Secondly, there will be special showcase concerts featuring some fantastic musicians, many of whom are also teaching workshops. An ongoing “rolling” session is the final piece of the pie, hosted by a variety of players, each leading a 30-minute section before it rolls over to the next host.

Schmid: I love pie. Will baked goods be incorporated into the festival?

Schmid: Funny you should ask. Maureen Peschl will continue the tradition of baking her iconic Irish soda bread. You can preorder it for pick-up in Bellingham using the form on the website.

Schmid: Who else will be involved?

Schmid: We’ve got a lineup of faraway favorites and local luminaries, tradition bearers and envelope pushers including Andrea E Beaton, Natalie Haas, Ewen Henderson, Rakish, Dale Russ, Gallowglass Irish Band, Michaela Cunningham, Ryan Murphy, Darcy Noonan, Biddy on the Bench, Kat Bula, Elias Alexander, Jenna Moynihan, Derek Duffy, Ryan McKasson, Mairi Chaimbeul, David Pender Lofgren, Laura Reed, Sam Vogt, Robert Sarazin Blake, Harper Stone, Niall Ó Murchú, and many more.

Schmid: Sounds super well-organized and like you’ve totally got this under control. What is your biggest concern for the weekend?

Schmid: Off the record, I’m concerned that people won’t understand that it’s a virtual event. I’m afraid that they’ll show up in-person.

Schmid: So you’re saying they shouldn’t show up in-person?

Schmid: No. I mean, yes, they shouldn’t.

To recap: Yes, the Bellingham Irish Festival is happening Oct. 9-11 anywhere and everywhere the internet reaches. No, you should not show up in person. Yes, Cayley really did interview herself because she is a truly delightful human. No, she did not write that previous sentence. Find out more about the Bellingham Irish Festival, Virtually at

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