IN Savannah's March sea of green, Tara Feis stands out starkly as the family-oriented can't-miss celebration, saluting authentic Irish heritage without the alcohol.
How’s Irish heritage present itself at Emmett Park’s annual festivities (pronounced “Tara Fesh”)? Well, you can tap your toes to it, take a bite or a sip of it, and maybe even try a jig of your own to it: prepare for entertainment, traditional concessions, and fun all day long, hosted by Savannah’s own Harry O’Donoghue.
To kick off the festivities, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Grand Marshal and local dignitaries will lead a procession of flags and bagpipes in a traditional Irish ceremony.
On the main stage, catch the quick-stepping local talent of the Irish Dancers of Savannah, Glor na Daire Academy of Irish Dance, and, from Ireland, the Dublin Firefighters Pipe and Drum Band (they also perform in the opening procession).
There will be an entire stage dedicated to entertaining the wee ones, including a puppet show by Ridgeland, South Carolina’s Conrad Hartz (purportedly one of the world’s greatest makers of hand puppets, marionettes, and ventriloquial figures), Savannah’s favorite magician Magic Mark Dunston, and Irish step dancing. Let the kids get creative at the craft station, or get all that weekend energy out on the festival’s multiple rides.
At the heart of it all is renown traditional Irish band FullSet, recently named Best Traditional Band of 2014 by the Irish Music Association. Comprising six young and extremely talented musicians, it’s a great chance for the kids to see unusual instruments like the button accordion, flute, Irish fiddle, and ulleann up close and personal.
Together, the sounds come together to offer something that sound both wonderfully traditional and freshly new.
Fiddle player Michael Harrison advises that the audience shouldn’t plan to sit still for long.
“Our main aim at all of our gigs is to have the whole audience up dancing by the end of the night and leaving with a smile on their face,” says Harrison. “We encourage everyone to wear green to the Tara Feis Irish Festival and to come along prepared to have a brilliant time.”