Shamrock Folk Festival planning fireworks this year

The organizers of the Shamrock Folk Festival are marking a milestone this year: It’s the 30th anniversary of the annual Ferryland spree that has become a ritual of summer for many people on the  Southern Shore and beyond.
The key to the event’s longevity has been the caliber of Irish and traditional Newfoundland music right from the time the festival was started by the Southern Shore Development Association in 1986 and taken over by the Southern Shore Folk Arts Council nine years later.
“Like any new venture it was humble beginnings,” said the Folk Arts Council’s executive director Keith Mooney, who can remember the very first show. “You have to acknowledge the great decision to start it on the Southern Shore. It was a great fit for our Irish heritage.”
The festival is still operating from the same venue where it started – a former ball field with a temporary stage that has since seen a series of upgrades to better suit a music site.
Mooney remembers the 1996 festival in which the area suffered a tremendous amount of rain and wind with tents blowing down and damage to the field itself. It was an ill wind with a silver lining. The damage hastened the implementation of a Master Plan that had been developed for the Colony of Avalon that included a village green in the area of the ball field. The Folk Arts Council was able to obtain funding to rehabilitate the site.
“We built up the site above the water table and constructed a new stage,” Mooney said. “That was in 1997.”
Over the years other improvements were made too, including a new fence and a concession park.
“Over the years we’ve seen a lot of great performances,” Mooney allowed, reciting a list of acts that have regularly trod the stage including the Masterless Men, Celtic Connection, Ron Hynes, The Navigators, The Punters, Stogger’ Tight and Shannyganock. That’s in addition to many local performers from the area.
“People look forward to the festival every year,” Mooney said. “Depending on the weather, you can get a large turnout of people. They come for a good time and to socialize and just to take advantage of the good weather and the outdoor music… It’s a great garden party (atmosphere). People plan their holidays around it. People have ongoing parties in their houses. For Ferryland and the area it’s an annual get together. We get a lot of visitors from the Avalon Peninsula and inquiries from all over the island and the mainland. It’s one of the longest running festivals and that garners a lot of interest in itself.”
Like all festivals, attendance is often weather dependent. Along with some rained out sessions there have been bouts of great weather. “1999, I remember, was just an exceptional year,” Mooney recalled. Last year saw perfect weather too, he added. “We’ve had it all. We’ve had tremendous crowds.”
Mooney said the Folk Arts Association has taken measures to make the festival an enjoyable family event. It’s Dinner Theatre is held in conjunction with the festival, and an art show has become an annual part of the weekend as well. This year fireworks have been added to close the event on Saturday night.
This year’s festival is set for July 25-26. Headlining the shows are Middle Tickle, The Masterless Men, Generations, Slainte, Jackie Sullivan, The Dunne Family and Sullivan & Slaney.
The festival will feature two sessions, Mooney noted, with an evening show on Saturday, July 25 and the traditional Sunday afternoon show on July 26.
“We really wanted to combine our Saturday afternoon and evening shows to bring together our family and evening audiences to hear several great acts starting off with the popular youth session,” he explained.
Beginning at 5 p.m., Saturday evening’s session will feature 12 performances and close out with a fireworks display. “We are very fortunate to have support from The Town of Ferryland and Dalton’s Home Hardware in making sure our new Saturday evening session finishes with a real blast,” said Mooney. “We want to invite our local supporters and our friends and visitors from near and far to help us celebrate 30 great years. Mark your calendar now for an event that will be the highlight of your summer.”
The weekend will also feature a Friday evening performance of this year’s dinner theatre, Outport Taxi, a special menu at the Tetley Tea Room By The Sea, the annual Art Exhibition, children’s activities, plenty of food vendors and a beer garden. A full schedule of Festival events and acts can be found at
“There’s no nicer place than festival Park on a sunny, breezy day to socialize and have a bite to eat or a refreshment,” said Mooney. “It highlights the Irish Loop region. It’s been the biggest event in the region for a number of years on the Irish Loop and we’re working this year to have a special event for out 30th anniversary.”

Posted on June 24, 2015 .