By Layla Kellogg
The Louisville Irish Fest returned to Bellarmine’s campus for the seventh straight year in a row on Sept. 23 and 24 with music, food, drinks, and all things Irish.
Irish Fest is organized by the Irish Arts Foundation (IAF). According to the official event website, the IAF is “a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting awareness, interest, and appreciation of Ireland’s rich cultural heritage.”
Tom Sfura, president of the Irish Arts Foundation, said he worked alongside late Bellarmine President Joseph J. McGowan to bring Irish Fest back to Bellarmine in 2010. McGowan wanted to promote Bellarmine to the Louisville community, so he pushed for Irish Fest to return to Bellarmine’s campus.
The average attendance of the event is 15,000 people, Sfura said.
Kathy Roberts and her husband traveled from Atlanta, Georgia for the festival, where they experienced both the city of Louisville and the Bellarmine community for the first time.
Roberts and her husband have traveled to several Irish festivals throughout the country.
“This (festival) is a bit smaller, but we really like the intimate feel that it gives off and the people are so nice,” Roberts said. “We will definitely be coming back– especially if Runa plays again.”
Runa, a multi-award winning band that performs Celtic roots music, headlined both Saturday and Sunday and proved to be a fan favorite.
This year’s event has more than a dozen bands on two stages, offering attendees the chance to hear traditional Irish music and dance.
Amber Chiapetto, Bellarmine student, said she attends for both the music and the drinks.
“They are both so good!” said Chiapetto. “My friends and I like to eat and just hang out around the main stage.”
Chiapetto’s go-to food item is the Bangers and Mash, a traditional Irish dish made of sausage and mashed potatoes.
This year’s Irish Fest featured food favorites from Molly Malone’s, Shenanigan’s Irish Grill, Flanagan’s, and O’Shea’s- all local restaurants specializing in Irish cuisine. Irish beer and whisky, Irish iced coffee and fresh lemonade were also available.
The Comfy Cow served ice cream as well. Nancy Rubel, catering manager at The Comfy Cow, said she was happy with the turnout and “very pleased with the weather,” as the heat increased ice cream sales.
Rubel said the time she spent at Irish Fest on Sunday exceeded all expectations she had set for the event.
Chloe Ewbank, Bellarmine student, attended the event for the fourth time.
Ewbank said her favorite part of Irish Fest is “getting to celebrate an entirely different culture.”
There were several vendors emphasizing the Irish culture, selling artwork such as paintings, crosses, sculptures, home decor and wind chimes. There was also apparel, homemade mugs and beer glasses and even homemade Celtic cross stitchings for sale.
One vendor, Paul Roides of Fossilman Designs, creates handmade, one-of-a-kind jewelry from Paleozoic era fossils.
Roides extracts the fossils mainly from Central Kentucky. He then cleans and polishes the fossils, a time-intensive process that involves 10 to 15 different steps and then uses the fossils to create jewelry.
The Louisville Irish Fest serves as the primary fundraiser for the Irish Arts Foundation. In the future, the organization would like to develop a scholarship program and foster a greater awareness of the Irish contribution to American culture and history.