The Irish Heritage Festival, which for the past three Columbus Day weekends has transformed Dorchester's Adams Corner into a block party celebrating the richness of Irish arts, culture and music in Boston, will not take place this year.
But organizers are already looking ahead to bringing back the event for 2013, and recently announced a date of October 13 for next year.
The festival, which is free of charge, has drawn upwards of 5,000 people annually since it debuted in 2009 with an array of Irish music and dance performers, many with strong ties to the Boston area, such as Robbie O'Connell, Aoife Clancy, The Joshua Tree, The Gobshites, Erin's Melody, The Kieran Jordan Dancers and the local Hanafin-Cooley branch of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann. It also has served as an expression of civic pride for Dorchester, with neighborhood businesses and volunteers contributing support and encouraging visitors and former residents alike to discover Dot.
However, a stubbornly sluggish economy, combined with the considerable cost and logistics involved in producing an event on such a scale, convinced organizers to take a hiatus this year.
In a statement posted in late August on the festival's Facebook page, festival committee member John O'Toole noted that costs for police details, lighting, permits and other aspects of the festival run upwards of $40,000.
"As you know, economically, it has been a very difficult year for many families and businesses, and we depend on the generosity of our donors to make the festival a success," O'Toole wrote. "We are extremely grateful to those folks, businesses and our trade unions who helped make it a huge success for the past three years. The festival committee has decided to give a financial break to those who make the festival possible and are already planning next year's festival."
O'Toole concluded by thanking all those who have volunteered in the past, and said he looked forward "to welcoming new volunteers for next year's festival."
Then, a few weeks later, O'Toole posted another statement announcing that the festival would take place in 2013. "We appreciate the offers of help and are looking for more volunteers to keep up this great Dorchester tradition," he wrote. "Let me or a committee member know if you are willing to help in any way, every bit helps."
The festival website is at http://www.irishheritagefestival.com .
Sean Smith is a regular contributor to the Boston Irish Reporter .