SHAMOKIN — Traditional Irish music played from one end of Shamokin to the other Saturday night as Heritage Restaurant and the Knights of Columbus hosted Irish musicians to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
A sea of green filled both locations as people gathered to enjoy dinners, specialty Irish drinks and jigs, ballads and drinking songs as well as some spirited dancing from the Irish dance group Tír na nÓg.
Diners at Heritage dressed the part, which for some meant kilts included, as they gathered to hear tunes from the Killarney Krew, a four-part band featuring two members from Ireland and Shamokin native Tim Madigan.
The restaurant was packed with reservations and people trying to get a seat to watch the band perform, drawing a strong Saturday night crowd, who were filled with the luck of the Irish.
At the Knights of Columbus, Callanish, a four-part all-female band brought in a sold out crowd of 110, and event organizer Joe Choker said he turned away at least 50 others who were calling up until shortly before the performance began.
He planned on surprising the band by announcing it was sold out during the show, but musician Holly Foy said they saw it on the sign when they pulled into the downtown area.
Eight scheduled performances this weekend for Foy didn’t stop her enthusiasm to perform in Shamokin, two hours away from the State College area where the band is based.
“(Joe) is our favorite guy and when he asked us at the end of our performance last year if we’d consider coming back this year, we said absolutely,” Foy recalled.
It is the second year the Knights of Columbus hosted the band, and Choker said it came about from wanting to offer something a little different in the area. The majority of the crowd were older, he said, and Callanish appealed to them more than some of the louder rock bands that occasionally play in the area.
He’s hoping to expand it to different holidays and bring in unique bands for those in the community to enjoy.
Also performing at the Knights of Columbus were seven young dancers from the Irish dance group Tír na nÓg, lead by world-renowned Irish choreographer Sue Garner. The kids practice at the Mother Cabrini Youth Center and had the crowd clapping and cheering as they did their traditional Irish dances.