The St. Patrick Society of Peoria was founded in January 1980 in downtown Peoria by Jack Cassidy, Ed Dwyer, Bob Mahoney, Bill O’Connell, and Richard Parsons who are referred to as the “Founders.” To accomplish its stated purpose, “to perpetuate the heritage and history of the Irish people and to promote their ideal, traditions, and culture,” the Society sponsors a minimum of two events each year, St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Party and a summer Irish Festival called Erin Feis in August.
The St. Patrick Society sponsors a St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Party on March 17 of each year. The Parade participants march along the designated parade route through downtown Peoria. Awards are presented in the following parade categories: Business Entries, Family Entries, and Organization Entries. The Parade route ends near the designated site of the family-focused St. Patrick’s Day Party where families (Irish Clans) meet and enjoy Irish music, Irish dance and Irish refreshments.
In August each year, the St. Patrick Society of Peoria partners with the Peoria Park District to host Erin Feis on the Peoria RiverFront. Over the years, Erin Feis has grown from a Sunday afternoon picnic for families to join together to share their interest in Irish traditions to a 3-Day Irish Festival held on the Peoria RiverFront. The first day of Erin Feis is called “The Gathering,” the second day is called “The Day,” and the third day is called “The Scattering.” During the 3-Day Erin Feis event, attendees have the opportunity to hear a variety of Irish musicians and other musicians playing traditional Irish music and more modern Irish music, to view Irish dancers from a variety of Irish Dance Schools, to learn more about Irish traditions by participating in some of the Hedge School presentations and observing some of the presenters in the Performing Arts Stage. In the Cultural Tent Area, the family histories of many of our local Irish families are proudly displayed. On Sunday, attendees can participate in a Catholic Mass or a Celtic Worship Service where canned goods are collected for local food pantries. On either Saturday or Sunday, some Ancient Athletic sporting competition is conducted featuring the Sheaf Toss, Caber Toss, Stone Put, Hammer Throw, Braemar Stone/Open Stone—heavy weight for distance and light weight for distance.
From time to time the St. Patrick Society of Peoria sponsors other events that “perpetuate the heritage and history of the Irish people and to promote their ideals, traditions, and culture.” These additional events can be accessed by going to the “Events Button.”