Summer Arts Festival offers variety of entertainment choices this week

Next Generation Leahy features nine siblings performing high-energy show.

Credit: Mary Zita Payne

Credit: Mary Zita Payne

The family that plays together will bring a fresh type of energy to the third week of the Summer Arts Festival in Springfield.

The Next Generation Leahy, nine siblings from ages 4-22, will follow a family tradition in playing their versions of several genres of music in Celtic roots-based style along with dancing at 8 p.m. Friday at the Veterans Park Amphitheater.

The show is free and a pass-the-hat collection will be taken at intermission to support the series, presented by the Springfield Arts Council. Week three will feature five shows in which audiences will find something different each night.

Leahy is a familiar name. Doug Leahy performed here several years ago with his own 10 siblings of an Irish dad and Scottish mom and raised in Canada, playing all over, including supporting country star Shania Twain on her 1997 tour.

His wife is one of 13 children, so it would figure they’d raise a new group of musicians and dancers, whom he now guides. In just 12 years, they have performed with big names including Irish folk legends The Chieftains, award-winning fiddler Natalie MacMaster and We Banjo 3, who performed here previously.

“We decided to have a small family,” he said, laughing. “It’s amazing how when the group gets together they come out playing exciting music full of energy and how good it makes you feel. There’s been so much response to what we do.”

The Next Generation Leahy siblings have several musical interests, so audiences will hear everything from rock and country to French-Canadian and Latin music on cello, fiddle, guitar, accordion, piano and other instruments, often swapping them during the show.

Doug Leahy said one of the show’s highlights is their take on French-Canadian step-dancing. It originated at logging camps where several nationalities shared their arts culture, resulting in this hybrid.

“You’ll see elements of all these in what they do,” he said.

While Doug Leahy said the show is for everyone from toddlers to senior citizens, the group especially loves a younger audience soaking up the energy.

“It’s moving when we have influence on young people,” he said. “We encourage people to bring the kids, especially. We’ve done a lot in a few years, and the older kids have really taken over. We can’t wait for the people to hear and see what we do.”

Family Fun Night with ventriloquist Lynn Trefzger and the cirque group The Amazing Giants will open week three today.

Thursday will bring Allison Road, musicians from Clark County, performing country, classic rock, pop and original music. Allison Road earned the Best Band title in the 2022 Best of Springfield competition.

The Honky Tonk Chicks will perform some of the best in country music including Dolly Parton, Shania Twain and even “Sweet Home Alabama” in their own style on Saturday. Rounding out the week on Sunday is the return of country rockers McGuffey Lane on their 50th anniversary tour with three original members set to perform.

All shows will begin at 8 p.m. Attendees can set up their lawn chairs or blankets for that evening’s performance starting at 6 a.m.

For more information on the Summer Arts Festival, go to

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