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Irish Fest returns after COVID-19 cancellation

Volunteers said planning a festival during a pandemic and adapting to the ever-shifting restrictions was a challenge.

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indy Irish Festival celebrated 25 years of tradition with pandemic precautions at the front of mind Saturday in Garfield Park.

After COVID-19 derailed the festival last year, volunteers said planning a festival during a pandemic and adapting to the ever-shifting restrictions was a challenge and kept them on their toes.

"This year was tough," said the Indy Irish Fest Co-Chair Erin O'Rourke. "Things have been changing all year long. We've really been trying to watch and make sure we follow all the mandates and make sure people feel safe." 

Volunteers with the event added a few new guidelines this year because of the virus by encouraging masks, social distancing and adding hand sanitizer stations.

"We are not trying to stand in too many lines," said Joe Haigerty. "We are both vaccinated and just got a booster today," 

"At school, we have to wear mask and I just think it has to be done to keep people safe and I'm fine with it ," said Dean Coffey. 

They worked hard to make the event fun and safe.

"We hope everyone has a great experience," said O'Rourke. "We put this on for people. This fest becomes lifelong memories for people." 

Visitors at the festival said they're glad to be back.

"It brings the community together. It's something we've been lacking these last several months. It's nice to bring everyone back together and have some COVID-19 rules. " said Shannon Walters.

Credit: Russ Govert/WTHR
Irish Fest returned to Garfield Park in Indianapolis Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021.

"It feels nice to see some sort of normalcy even if it doesn't stay awhile. It feels good to see people's faces, to see people smile, " said Katreis St. John.