Shamrocks adorned the doors and walls of the Mack Physical Education Center on March 12. Green, orange and white could be seen all around as Irish culture was celebrated at the 19th annual Hofstra Irish Festival.
The traditional festival was held the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day. The festival featured live entertainment including Irish step-dancing and traditional Celtic music, children’s activities, Irish food and vendors selling Irish wares.
In addition to the live entertainment and vendors, there were a variety of tables promoting Irish culture. In particular, there was a table offering the opportunity to trace one’s Irish heritage.
However, one’s ancestry did not matter at the festival. Its purpose was to celebrate Irish culture in America. The festival’s slogan “Let Ye All Be Irish Today!” encouraged all fair-goers to enjoy Celtic heritage.
With the variety of activities offered at the fair, there were certainly many highlights. As the Irish step-dancers performed on stage, Jessie Garcia, associate director of event management at Hofstra, said of the festival, “We have a lot of authentic Irish products that you can’t get anywhere else. They’re imported. A lot of our vendors here come from year to year and they bring these really unique products. As far as the entertainment is concerned, people love to hear traditional Irish music because you don’t really hear that nowadays. So, a lot of the folks come here year to year and they grab their seats and they sit there for the entire show.”
Not all in attendance came from far away; Hofstra students made an appearance at the event as well. “I enjoyed seeing families decked out in green trinkets and listening to authentic Irish music,” said Jordan Stanford, a freshman theater and finance major.
The Irish festival has been a continuous event at Hofstra and has become an annual tradition engrained in the school’s culture.
One vendor, Elizabeth Wagner, has been coming to the Hofstra Irish Festival for well over 10 years. Her company is named after her mother, Julia N. Wagner, and sells a variety of wares including customary Irish merchandise, so of course, her table featured lots of green.
Green merchandise is not the only aspect of the Hofstra Irish Festival that makes it different from other venues that Wagner sells at.
When asked about the differences, Wagner said, “Aside from our [Irish] heritage, [the fair] is very patriotic, very family-oriented and the people are very nice. It’s nice interacting with people whether they buy or not, [especially] just having conversations. And we know a lot of people that pass by [our table] since we’ve been coming here for so long; so you get very personal with some people.”