By Elizabeth McNamara
For the fourth consecutive year, the Irish family festival will bring Irish music, culture, and sports to the New York area. The annual festival will be held this weekend, rain or shine, at Belmont Race Track. According to Steve Duggan, the festival’s founder, the numerous oak trees make Belmont "one of the most beautiful race tracks in the world" an ideal place for lovers of Irish music and culture to gather.
Beginning at noon on Saturday, festival visitors will be treated to continuous entertainment by prominent Irish performers. Tony Jackson will be the master of ceremonies and will introduce acts like Bagatelle, The Whole Shabang, Linda Rutherford and Celtic Fire, Paddy Noonan, Frank Patterson, Hal Roach, Paddy Reilly and many others. Saturday’s festivities will end at 11 p.m. but the action will commence again at 10 a.m. on Sunday.
However, this festival differs from most others that simply entertain their guests with music and comedy. Events like the Eamonn Coghlan 5K Classic race, the 1,200-person feis, the Sunday morning Mass for peace and justice, and the All Star Dog Parade give this festival its special flavor.
"Every year, I, as the promoter, learn something different," Duggan said. He added more rides and acts suited for children this year, to "keep the kids busy so the parents can enjoy themselves," he said.
The annual theater tent will be run by Connor McCourt, nephew of author Frank McCourt. The tent will feature a documentary of the McCourt family of County Limerick.