FAYETTEVILLE, N.Y. – The Fayetteville Free Library hosted its annual Saint Patrick’s Day Celebration for the first time since 2019. At the event, families got the opportunity to see traditional Irish performances including song and dance. As one of the fastest growing events for the special day, Leah Kraus, the library’s assistant director, said the theme is what has driven such a high attendance to the event every year since it started.
“They’re so happy that we put it on,” Kraus said. “I think sometimes other St Patrick’s Day things may not have as much of a family focus.”
While it serves a fun family activity for some of the attendees, it also serves as an opportunity for families to cherish and celebrate Irish traditions that have been passed down multiple generations. Shannon Murphy Van Slyke, President of the Friends of Johnson Parents Club, is seeing her daughter follow in her footsteps as an Irish dancer at the Johnson School of Irish Dance who performed at the event.
“It’s just really great to keep all those traditions alive,” Van Slyke said. “You know, when when my parents put me in it, they just wanted me to learn the jig so that we could carry on the tradition for the next generation. And it was the same for my daughter.”
Syracuse Irish Sessions, the musical group who performed for the Saint Patrick’s Day celebration, has been playing traditional Irish tunes as a group since 1995. Harvey Nusbaum, the Sessions’ guitarist, expressed they’re not used to playing in front of major crowds, but the love for the music is what gets them out of their comfort zone.
“We’ve kept it going ever since because we like to play the music,” Nusbaum said. “There are like a hundred people watching you and you. It is a little bit nerve wracking, but you know it’s for the good.”
With the talents of both the Sessions and the Irish School of Dance bringing families together for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, Kraus said that it brings a sense of relief to everyone who is apart of making this celebration happen.
“To finally be back to a place where we’re back to these big scale community events. It just it just feels like finally, finally.”