St. Patrick will be in Richmond this weekend, participating in the kick-off parade at the 31st annual Irish Festival on Church Hill. Starting at 10 a.m. this Saturday, the festival will include hurlers, Irish step dancers, pipes and drum bands walking two blocks to commence a weekend full of Irish culture.
With a surplus of Irish foods, concerts and adult beverages for those over 21, the festival is a great way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year by being completely immersed in the culture. Plus, the $5 entry fee is donated to many causes, including St. Baldrick’s Foundation for pediatric cancer research.
Located near St. Patrick’s Church, which was built by Irish immigrants in 1859, the festival brings Irish traditions to life for not only the Irish population in Richmond but for University of Richmond students and community members, whether Irish or not.
Conor McDevitt, a junior at Richmond whose parents both emigrated from Ireland, is proud of his heritage and is enthusiastic about events that promote Irish culture, he said.
“Irish people are the funniest, most unique people so I always try to talk to them whenever I can,” McDevitt said. “The festival should be something you go to at least once in your life.”
McDevitt said his least favorite parts about being Irish were his vulnerability to sunburns and inability to tan, but he enjoys Irish food, which will be abundantly available at the festival.
“My mom always cooks traditional Irish meals so Irish food is always a nice reminder of home,” he said.
The most popular dish at the festival is typically the “Irish Surprise” prepared by the ladies of St. Patrick’s Church. A traditional Irish dish, it consists of corned beef, cabbage and mashed potatoes – and a few surprises.
Additionally there will be “Tots O’Gold” by the St. Patrick’s Grille, fish & chips by Rare Olde Times and plenty of Irish beer for Spiders of legal age.
Kate Powers, a Westhampton College senior who grew up in Richmond, has been to the Irish festival more than five times, and the parade is her favorite part.
“It’s always so cool to see people who are so passionate about their Irish heritage dress up and perform,” Powers said.
Step dancing, one of the forms of Irish dancing, is a highlight of Irish culture and one of the many acts performed at the festival.
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Aisling Gorman, a junior who is of Irish heritage and just returned from studying abroad in Ireland, said she loved watching her cousins step dance when she was younger.
“Truthfully I don’t do much for St. Patrick’s Day,” Gorman said. “But I love the culture. Everyone is so kind and giving. The festival is a great way to learn more about it and maybe even the history behind St. Patrick’s Day.”
Mallory McCune, a volunteer for the event and daughter of the festival’s organizer, Stokes McCune, encourages any and all Richmond students to come.
“We’ve got a great variety of local music, great food, craft beer, and for college students it’s a chance to enjoy RVA on top of historic Church Hill,” McCune said. “It’s a great way to see what the community is all about, and try everything Richmond has to offer.”
Contact reporter Kay Trulaske at email@example.com
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