Toledo Irish: Kilt Contest!

Toledo Irish: Toledo Irish American Club Kilt Contest
By Molly McHugh

The Toledo Irish American Club hosted its 4th annual Kilt Contest at Earnest Brew Works in downtown Toledo on March 9th. It was a night to remember.

What is a Kilt contest you may ask? Well, exactly what it sounds like of course! A total of seven men and one woman (first time ever that a woman competed), dressed and came downtown to impress in their best-looking kilts.

The contestants paraded around to show off their outfits alongside the Toledo Firefighters Bagpipes and Drums. Towards the middle of the night, the contestants were called up to the front of the brewery, and the winner was chosen based on applause.

Eight contestants went down to four, then down to three, two and finally the winner, Chris Rynn, was announced. Chris was decked out head to toe. The night continued with entertainment by Padraig’s Top Shelf, a local Irish band.

According to Kelly Zawierucha, President of the Toledo Irish American Club, The Kilt Contest started back in 2018, “as a way to generate buzz and get people out to our events.” Kelly resurrected the Toledo Irish American Club back in 2017, and has been partnering with Earnest Brew Works, a local brewery here in Toledo, on various events and fundraisers ever since.

Of course, Earnest Brew Works had just the right drinks on tap, too! They were serving Killarney-Irish Red Cream Ale, which is described as “The beer that made the village of Killarney famous”; O’Byrne’s Dry Irish Stout, a “Traditional dry Irish Stout”; Red Panda, another Irish Cream Ale served in a can, all amongst several other options and flavors, such as their Peanut Butter/Chocolate Stout.

Across the Pond
Not only did the night provide great drinks and entertainment, but the Kilt contest was also a fundraiser event to support Toledo’s own Irish Dancer, Rylei Young. Rylei will be heading over to Belfast in April for the World Dance Competition. She started Irish dancing at the age of six and qualified for her first World Competition at the age of ten and has qualified every year since.

However, what makes this year so special is that the competition is taking place in Belfast, which will mark Rylei’s first time heading across the pond, not only to visit Ireland for the first time, but to participate in the highest level of Irish dance competition. Only ten to fifteen dance students in each age group from around the world qualify to complete. We wish Rylei the best of luck and thank the Toledo Irish American Club for helping to make her dreams come true.

The Kilt Contest was the perfect way to kick off the St. Patrick’s Day festivities in Toledo, and we look forward to many more years to come.
*Molly McHugh is a Toledo native and holds her MSc in Strategy, Innovation and People Management from National University of Ireland, Galway. Molly can be reached at [email protected]

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