Tuesday, February 22 | Submitted by
Springfield's Irish Festival Association and the St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee are pleased to name Gordon McCann the Grand Marshal of the 31st Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade and Celebration, which will be held Saturday, March 19, 2011.
For three decades, Gordon has traveled the Ozarks recording fiddlers and playing alongside them. He estimates he has more than 3,000 hours of recorded music and conversation with better than 500 musicians. Dating back to 1974, Gordon's recordings are irreplaceable links to a past that every year becomes more rare as the "old-time" fiddle players pass away.
In 2002, the Missouri Arts Council awarded Gordon with a Missouri Arts Leadership Award; Gordon is only the second folklorist to be recognized by the Arts Council with the award. He has served as a consultant and speaker on Ozarks traditional arts for many organizations including the National Geographic Society and for the Smithsonian Institution, who recognized him as a Community Folklore Scholar. Gordon also has given his time and expertise to many other groups including National Endowment for the Arts and the Missouri Folklore Society. He is a 1954 graduate of Southwest Missouri State College (now MSU) and received an honorary doctorate in 2009 from his alma mater.
For Gordon, fiddle music is a doorway into the history of the Ozarks that he knows intimately and in which his ancestors participated for generations. Family members on his mother's side fought for the Confederacy while those on his father's side were Union. His mother's family has lived in the Ozarks since the 1820s. During the Depression in 1930, Gordon's father founded Springfield Blue Print which still is operating under the management of Gordon's son in downtown Springfield.
Gordon McCann is probably best known for traveling the country accompanying well-known Ozarks traditional fiddler Art Galbraith. The pair, long a fixture of folk festivals, fairs and traditional American music concerts, began playing together in the late '70s and continued until Galbraith's death in 1993. The two played at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C., and the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Virginia, as well as the Frontier Folklife Festival in St. Louis.
Entries are still being accepted for the parade and for the Irish Idol Contest. Registration is free but all participants must pre-register. This year, cash prizes of $500, $250, and $100 respectively will be awarded to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners in the float division. The Irish Idol winner receives a $100 cash prize. Those wishing to enter the parade or the Irish Idol Contest mayregister online at www.springfieldstpatsparade.org or by calling 417.831.6200
Event sponsorships are still available.