According to folk legend, the Irish had lots of fun at Finnigan’s wake.
There will be neither row nor ruction at the Saratoga-Wilton Elks Club on Sunday, but Chris Bergman expects Irish men, women and children will wake the dead at “Irish Family Festival 2011.”
“The idea behind the festival is to offer families an alternative to celebrate the St. Patrick’s Day holiday,” said Bergman, president of the Saratoga Ancient Order of Hibernians, Commodore John Barry Division 1. “It’s an afternoon party from 3 until 7 p.m. We have Irish dancing and food available. It’s an alternative to the stereotypical pub crawl.”
Corned beef sandwiches and light fare will be sold. Duo John Cromie and Paul Quinn will perform, along with a large “session” group of musicians and singing members of the Saratoga Springs High School Drama Club.
Like the Old Country
The first party was held a few years after the Hibernians re-established their chapter in Saratoga Springs in 1999. About 300 attended last year’s eighth session. “We usually fill the room,” said Bergman, who lives in Clifton Park.
Irish Family Festival 2011
WHERE: Saratoga-Wilton Elks Club, 2 Elk Way, Saratoga Springs
WHEN: 3 to 7 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $5; free for children 12 and under.
MORE INFO: www.saratogaaoh.com
Bergman said Hibernians wanted to host an event that members and the community could bring their families to. The pub atmosphere is the right one for the gathering, Bergman added, because that’s how folks and families gather in Ireland.
“It wouldn’t be unheard of to have entire families at pubs, they were gathering places,” he said. “A lot of family members played instruments and danced, they’d get together there and do that. We’re trying to keep that tradition alive.”
Bergman said the party also gives people in the community a chance to learn a bit about the Hibernians. If anyone asks, he or she will find out John Barry — for whom the division is named — is often described as the “father of the American Navy.”
“I’m not sure if there are any ties locally, but he was an Irishman who gave his life and career to naval endeavors,” Bergman said.
They may also discover the Ancient Order of Hibernians’ national convention was held in Saratoga Springs in 1906.
Bergman hopes visitors mostly discover a good time.
“We try to get our name out there to let people know who we are,” Bergman said. “We’re in Saratoga, we donate to local charities and host festivals like this to show what the Irish spirit is all about.”
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