Everyone in Boston is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. In Dorchester, you can add another date to the calendar: October’s annual Irish Heritage Festival in Adams Village. On the Sunday of the unseasonably warm Columbus Day weekend, this year’s street festival attracted an estimated 10,000 revelers who enjoyed shopping, food and drink from nearby restaurants, Irish step dancers and live music.
With the sun shining and the thermometer at 80-degrees, the day was ideal for the third annual festival. Vendors selling clothing, toys, Irish sports memorabilia, jewelry, knit goods and more lined both sides of the street from the Adams Village clock at the Gallivan Boulevard intersection to Lopez the Florist at the corner of Saranac Street. Greenhill’s Bakery, Blasi’s Cafe, the Eire Pub and Gerard’s set up shop on Adams and Minot Streets for festival-goers to stop in for a bite, a cup of joe or a pint. Adams Fish Market offered lobster rolls and fish ‘n chips at a stand just outside its doors.
Carriage-bound tykes and festival first-timers Shannon and Kelsey Brent were decked out in green beads and wore green ribbons in their pigtails.
“We just wanted to walk around [and] listen to some Irish music,” mom Lauren said.
First time vendor Steve Rocha of the Pembroke-based Sheep in the Road, LLC brought his unique t-shirts to the event. Rocha teamed up with Irish artist Elaine Hailer, whose original oil painting “Sheep in the Road” sparked the idea, to create the shirts.
“So we have sheep on shirts in a whimsical, funny way. And it appeals to all ages,” Rocha said.
The popular Adams Corner-based College Hype, one of the festival’s key supporters, also did a brisk business with its mix of neighborhood-themed apparel and Irish wares.
Volunteers from the non-profit sponsor Carney Hospital handed out bottled water, hand sanitizer and— despite the July-like temps— ice scrapers.
“Just in case it snows tomorrow,” quipped Sr. Paula Tinlin of Carney’s Spiritual Care.
Ann Hart, Carney’s Volunteer Services Manager and gift shop manager, joined Tinlin and other volunteers from the local hospital. Sue Kelliher, Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications at the Carney, also came out to help.
“We’re invested in the community and that’s why we’re here,” she said. “We’re just trying to support the community and the local events and be out there, letting people know what we do and what we offer.”
This year’s festival included an expanded Kids’ Zone located at the far end of the Rite-Aid parking lot, featuring huge, inflatable slides and bouncy houses, along with face-painting and other games. The event was staffed by volunteers from the Leahy-Holloran Community Center, who raised funds to help pay for the inflatable fun and the Neponset-based facility.
The festival committee is dedicated to promoting a positive view of the neighborhood through new and old Irish customs and traditions.