By Stephen McKinley
This year, the 15th annual Irish Festival in Fairfield, Conn., has a new location — the well-established event will take place from June 14-16 at Long Island Sound’s Jennings Beach, at the end of South Benson Road.
“We were forced to move this year, because they just started breaking ground for a brand new middle school [at the previous side],” said festival co-chairman Ray Corby.
For 14 years, the festival was held at Ludlowe Field. Corby said that the new location was “even better,” and a sign would be erected at Ludlowe Field to direct festival goers to the new location.
“In past years we would lose people to the beach on Saturday,” he said. “This year, because the location is at the beach, they can do both. Jennings Beach is just a short walk across the dunes from the festival ground.”
Entertainment of the best Irish kind will be on offer for visitors, and Corby said he is pleased with this year’s almost entirely new musical lineup.
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Music in the Glen will open proceedings on June 14 at 6 p.m., followed by the Lenihan School of Irish Dance and big favorites, the “indelibly Irish” Prodigals.
Ray Mattie from Nova Scotia kicks off festivities in the main tent on both Saturday and Sunday. Mattie will provide listeners with a unique mix of pop and rock, Irish and Maritime sounds, as well as some of his more original stuff. Also on Saturday, the Whole Shabang will be the big event in the main tent.
Blackthorn, whose repertoire includes traditional and contemporary Irish music, will bring the festival to a close in the main tent on Sunday evening.
Music may be the food of love, but for those with another hunger, local Irish organizations and stores will be selling the best of Irish grub and refreshments.
“There will be about 22 different Irish products vendors,” Corby said.
The organizers ask festival goers to take note of the limited parking facilities at Jennings Beach, and to make use of the free shuttle bus service from three locations: the south side of the Fairfield train station, (exit 21 off 1-95) the Gaelic American Club/First Church on Beach Road, and the Town Hall parking lot on Old Post Road, both accessible from Exit 22 off I-95. Shuttle bus riders will get $1 off admission to the festival.
Details, (203) 333-4736 or www.irishfestival.org