More than a thousand people gathered in the 400 block of West Vine Avenue on Saturday, Aug. 8, for fellowship, food, live music, and fun. Sunny skies and warm temperatures were the order for the day.
The block of Vine Avenue where the church is located was cordoned off for the festival and tents and vendors surrounded the church, offering Irish music and traditional dancing and food, such as corned beef and cabbage, Shepherd’s Pie, Reuben sandwiches, lamb stew with soda bread, bangers and mash, beverages and desserts.
Among the performers entertaining on two different stages were Nancy Brennan Strange and the Tom Billies, Morgan Birdwell, bagpiper Tracy Wilson, Irish Dancers of Tennessee, Four Leaf Peat, Good Thymes Ceilidh Band, Red Haired Mary, Jeff Nelson, Julianne White and the Gypsy Rovers, Shamrock Road, the Knoxville area Dulcimer Club, and Amanda Peavyhouse & Karl Jacob. Church tours were given by Carole Wunderlich and a silent auction was held in the church basement.Father Ron Franco, pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish, was hopeful that attendance at the eighth annual Irish Fest would surpass last year – and it did. Some 1,300 people enjoyed the IC fundraiser, up from 1,100 at the seventh annual Irish Fest on the Hill.
“It’s wonderful. We’re very pleased,” Father Franco said of the event, noting that many hours of preparation by volunteers went into putting on Irish Fest. In addition to serving as Irish Fest host, Father Franco also celebrated the 6 p.m. Mass Saturday at the church.
The Bredehofts of St. John Neumann Parish in Farragut made the event a family affair.
They worked to keep up as their children, Autumn and Eddie, raced from tent to tent, taking time out for face-painting, refreshements, and making balloon animals.
When asked how they liked Irish Fest, Edward Bredehoft replied, “It’s great; it’s really great.”
Sponsors of the event included radio station B97.5, Regal Entertainment, Clancy’s Tavern, PetSafe, Jupiter Entertainment, Todd Birdwell, Brooke MacDonald Custom Construction, Nassios & McLaughlin, Fastenal, Coldwell Banker Wallace & Wallace, River Dog Bakery, the Foundry, Knights of Columbus, and the Immaculate Conception Women’s Group.