Penn-Mar proves it every year with its Irish Festival, held this weekend at The Markets at Shrewsbury, 12025 Susquehanna Trail, Shrewsbury Township. In its 12th year, the festival brings together Irish dancing, musicians and, new this year, a documentary on the genre titled Beautiful People.
Festival organizers added an additional tent to screen the documentary, which celebrates the passion and camaraderie of New York City's longest-running traditional Irish music session, said Mary Yeaple, who helps organize the festival. The documentary spotlights Dempsey's Pub on Manhattan's Lower East Side.
There, dozens of musicians gather every Tuesday night to play a mix of old and new Irish tunes. Anyone who shows up gets to play, and the evening draws a mix of musicians from a 21-year-old singer/guitarist to an 84-year-old Italian-American accordionist, both of whom appear in the film.
The film's producer will be at the festival for a question-and-answer session between two of the screenings.
Also new to the event this year are The Rovers, a Celtic rock band based in Annapolis, Md., and Mossy Moran, an Irish ballad singer originally from Ireland and now living in Ohio.
In addition, Irish author John O'Brien Jr., co-director of the Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival and editor of the Ohio Irish American News, will present a program based on his poetry.
About 2,500 people attend the festival, which has grown each year, Yeaple said. Penn-Mar will run shuttle buses from its offices at 10709 Susquehanna Trail. Attendees are asked to park there.
The event started out small, with one stage and a few local entertainers and regional vendors, Yeaple said. We now have two stages, plus a cultural tent and a children's activity tent, and attract vendors from up and down the East Coast.
The festival serves as a key fundraiser and a friendraiser, Yeaple said for Penn-Mar Human Services, a non-profit that provides services to the disabled in southern York County and northern Baltimore County, Md.
Funds are raised through sponsorships, as well as admission and vendor fees and food sales. All food vendors donate 20 percent of their sales for the day to Penn-Mar.
- John Hilton,
If you goWHAT: Penn-Mar Irish Festival
WHEN: 10:30 a.m. to
7 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: The Markets at Shrewsbury, 12025 Susquehanna Trail, Shrewsbury Township
COST: $7 in advance; $10 at the gate
DETAILS: Visit www.penn-mar.org.