Jon Ferrie

Board president, Irish Festival of Knoxville

So, what's going to be fun at Knoxville's first ever Irish Fest?

We've got the Four Leaf Peat Band, Knoxville's foremost and only Irish traditional band, believe it or believe it not, and two Irish ballad bands. Then our headliner, Lahinch Mob, they'll be playing Irish rock and Irish party songs, like the "Devil Went Down to Georgia."

Do you expect dancing?

Oh god, yeah. We'll be dancing to everybody, actually. And we'll also have a kids zone. People think of Irish fest as a drinking thing, don't bring the kids, but that's total gibberish. We'll have a 9-hole Putt Putt, face painting, bouncy castles...

Bouncy castles?

What's the word you guys use... moonwalk? We call that Bouncy Castles back home. We'll also have something where you'll think, "How come these things are side by side?"—Christy from RideCamels.com.

But will there be drinking, too?

Oh yes. Calhoun's will bring its microbrew, and one of the main sponsors is Guinness. And we'll have ribs and Fish and Chips and corned beef sandwiches.

Speaking of sponsors, what happens to the money you raise?

The $10 for adult admission—kids are free—goes directly to the Knoxville Firefighters Association, the Fraternal Order of Police, Knoxville Volunteer Rescue Squad, Remote Area Medical Foundation, and The Ulster Project for teens in Northern Ireland. The Irish coming to America, a lot of them chose to take jobs as police, in the fire departments, going back to the first years.

When did you come to America?

I've been in Knoxville two years, and Florida before that. I hail from Dublin. My wife, Rachel, hails from Birmingham, England, and my 5-year-old daughter hails from Florida.

And the camels?

They're from Birmingham, too.

The festival is at the World's Fair Park July 25 and 26. For more information, go to irishfestknox.org.


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