If you were to ask a dozen people who attended the first annual Killington Irish Festival to sum up their experience at the event I would bet the stock reply would be, “It was Grand.” But of course, I’m a little biased.
Under the direction of Tracy O’Dwyer Buckley (who did her mother Geraldine proud), director of the Geraldine School of Irish Dancing from County Kildare, Ireland, the dancers were nothing short of magnificent. With a full schedule of performances at the Festival at the Summit Lodge they were able to squeeze in performances at the Inn at the Long Trail and the Foundry. Thanks to Amy Laramie and the Killington/Pico Resort they even found time for a gondola ride to the Peak to see Killington in all its splendor. Oh, to have that kind of energy once again.
There was no shortage of great traditional Irish music, what with three bands, Fahey’s Field, pipers from the Catamount Pipers Band, Reigh and Daniel of County Down and cameo appearances by Melissa Miravel, Claudine from Gypsy Reel and Tisa, one of Claudine’s students.
The Summit staff transformed the function room into a Dublin street scene complete with street lights, Doors of Dublin, street vendors and artisans: Vt. Celtic Design, Blue Parrot Jewelry Design, Lone Palm of Ft. Lauderdale, Everything Knotty and Spirit Farm. Peter Gould, the Summit Lodge’s artist in residence hand painted the dance floor to look like a cobblestone street, and it is a true work of art. There were tastings from Jameson and Bushmill from Southern Wine and Spirits, Craic and Wexford Irish beers from Farrell Dist. and Rick Keuhle and his three little helpers, Guiness and Harp for Baker Dist. And Corey Taylor and let’s not forget Tim McGuiness from Diageo.
The kids had an absolute blast, too. The 1903 Olds that has been living in the lobby of the Summit Lodge for decades was dismantled by the Summit staff and reassembled as part of the street scene for the kids to play on. Ginny Thompson put together a balloon arch complete with a “pot of gold and the end of the rainbow.” Karen Gouchberg painted a shamrock (no, it’s not a clover) on more than a few smiling faces which included Rutland’s own troubadour James Mee, who regaled the youngsters with stories and songs designed especially for the wee ones.
There was a raffle to benefit the Killington Volunteer Fire Department with prizes donated by the Killington/Pico Resort (thank you again Amy), Peter Bouregard of Donegal Importers, Ken and Alan Root of Root Sports, Mark and Leslie Adami of Effie Dudley’s, Otter Creek Brewing, Southern Wine and Spirits, the Summit Lodge, and of course O’Dwyer’s Public House. I just know that Otto Ianntuoni will walk proud in the Irish wool cap he won in the raffle.
To not mention the herculean effort by the Summit staff would be sacrilege. In keeping with the tradition of the Summit staff, everyone went the extra mile to insure the success of the Festival. We have to give a shout out to Chef Steven Hatch and Sous Chef Skinny Tim and their kitchen staff and to Sandy Guertin and the dining room staff. Billy Barrett of the Newport Barretts who came up from Rhode Island for a guest shot behind the bar and to make sure I minded my p’s and q’s. Dave Bloomer and Matt Carron did a stellar job in the pub.
Emmett and Laura O’Dwyer and little Orlaith had a vision. With a firm hand and an unwavering game plan, plus the oversized white board in the office, they turned their vision into a happening – the first annual Killington Irish Festival. If you missed this one, now you’re just going to have to wait until next year.
Ned Dyer, Killington, Vt.