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After historic rains deal a "severe blow" to Irish Fest, the nonprofit seeks donations

Maggie Weaver Sep 11, 2018 15:11 PM
Photo: Mairin Petrone
The Pittsburgh Irish Festival fell on some tough luck this weekend.

The festival, originally set to start Friday with events through Sunday, was flooded. A record-setting rainfall drowned out the festival’s third day; directors canceled Sunday’s events for safety of the vendors, performers, and patrons.

“Thankfully, the RiverPlex doesn’t flash flood,” says Mairin Petrone, executive director of Pittsburgh Irish Festival. “We had some warning and my team jumped into action.” Everything valuable was removed from the site, but tents are still up, their pointed tops visible poking out of the high water.


But with low attendance and the cancelation, the nonprofit faces a debilitating loss of income.

Beyond the annual festival, the Pittsburgh Irish Festival has grown into a cultural resource for Pittsburgh. Year-round the organization hosts workshops and gatherings to promote understanding of Irish and Irish-American culture.

In a Facebook post, the festival writes, “The funds raised at the festival each year go directly towards our mission to preserve and promote the rich Irish culture that exists in our area. As a small non-profit organization, the results of losing an entire day of the festival dealt a severe blow to our efforts.”


The Pittsburgh Irish Festival is asking for support, and Petrone notes that everything helps.

The Pittsburgh community is already rallying behind them.
Photo: Mairin Petrone
“It’s really phenomenal and heartwarming,” Petrone says. “People just started to reach out. Bands offered to play at fundraisers and businesses have offered venues.”

Moving forward, the organization hopes to put on a series of fundraisers, including a mini-fest. They plan to partner with the Irish Design Center for this event. Petrone emphasizes that they want to “deliver on the event they couldn’t.”

“We’ve already gotten calls from people who missed out on their 2018 Irish Fest t-shirt,” says Petrone. “We’ll make sure those are at the mini-fest.”

Support The Pittsburgh Irish Fest on their website, pghirishfest.org.