Annual Irish Festival to return to Milford next month

MILFORD — A staple of Milford for the past 15 years, the annual Irish Festival is scheduled to return Sept. 17 and Sept. 18 at Fowler Field.

The event was canceled last year due to COVID-19, and festival co-founder Marty Hardiman said enthusiasm was high for this year’s 14th annual event.

“There’s a lot of excitement, and a lot of people have signed up to help work the festival,” Hardiman said.

Hardiman and his partner started the Irish Club 16 years ago, and the following year, they decided to do a festival.

“What we did is we bring in food, corned beef and cabbage dinners and sandwiches,” said Hardiman. “The first year, we were just underneath the pavilion, and then we grew from then. Now we can take over almost the whole park. It’s grown quite a bit. We’ve always had Irish music, we try to bring in Irish food, but we also bring other dishes because not everyone eats corned beef.”

As the festival grew, Hardiman said event began to include more things like vendors, and it also expanded to a 2-day festival.

This year Hardiman said the festival also will include a parade, but the committee has not settled on a grand marshal, he said.

This year’s Irish Festival is scheduled to begin Friday night, Sept. 17, from 5:45 p.m. to 11 p.m. and conclude on Saturday, Sept. 18, from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m.

The musical acts include Bobby Morrill, Brennan-Lucy Irish Dance Academy, the Mighty Ploughboys and the Highland Rovers on Friday and Kerry Boys, Lenihan School of Irish Dance, Camac, Jolly Beggars and Keltic Kick on Saturday.

Because Milford is currently listed as being in orange alert status for COVID-19, the committee had to make some changes.

“We had to cut back on food vendors, vendors that were selling their wares and because be we are on Stage Orange now, we had to eliminate the children’s area,” said Hardiman.

Hardiman said the committee is taking other COVID-19 precautions during the two-day event, such as masking, spacing out tables for social distancing and requiring volunteers who are working the event to be vaccinated.

“We’ll be taking all kinds of precautions because of COVID,” said Hardiman.