Kilts for a cause: Library teams with Winters Fund to host Celtic celebration

By on February 18, 2015

Joy Ashley needed to find another way to get money for the Ephrata Public Library. Recently, the non-profit has been embroiled in funding issues; for 2015, some funding for the library was cut, which had a 2014 operating budget of $850,000. She found a perfect storm of Irish heritage, need, and fun.

“As a result [of decreased funding for 2015], we met with another nonprofit in Ephrata and started brainstorming. We realized we needed to collaborate instead of vying for the same money. This was when the concept of Shamrocks & Shenanigans was born,” said Ashley, who has partnered with the Major Dick Winters Leadership Memorial Fund and American Legion Post 429 to create an event unique for Ephrata and surrounding communities. “We are looking for creative ways to raise revenue.”

Shamrocks & Shenanigans will feature Irish music and fare in the Legion ballroom at 303 Cocalico St., on Saturday, March 7 from 7 to 11 p.m. Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door and will include Irish-themed food from chef Louis Chabot, libations, and merriment. The goal is to create an event with a party atmosphere, which will appeal to Ephrata residents as well as people from the entire region.

“We want to build an awareness [with people outside of Ephrata] to let them know what is going on here,” said Ashley. “We have a lot to offer. We want to make Ephrata more of a destination.”

Ashley immediately thought of including downtown businesses in any of her new fundraising ideas and for Shamrocks & Shenanigans tapped one of the most recent additions to Ephrata, Black Forest Brewery.

As part of its ongoing mission to support fundraising for local charities, the brewery extended their “6th tap competition” to include an Irish red ale created specifically for Shamrocks & Shenanigans. Every once in a while the brewery accepts homebrew recipes in form of a competition to fill the sixth tap in the tasting room. The best brew gets a spot amongst their regular selection. A portion of the proceeds from the competition go to a local charity, non-profit, or event. This year’s winning homebrewer, Brian McGaulley, will be crafting his beer with brewmaster Bob Harter at Black Forest on Wednesday Feb. 18 and a full keg of the brew will be available at Shamrocks & Shenanigans.

Those into Celtic music will enjoy sets by the Kilmaine Saints and Down by the Glenside. Hard-hitting rockers the Kilmaine Saints will return with their punk-inspired Celtic rock, delivering songs from three of their successful albums, “The Good, the Plaid, and the Ugly” (2010), “Drunken Redemption” (2012), and the revamped Irish standards on “Untraditional” (2014). The band was a past participant in the Concerts by the Creek.

Saints fiddle player Liz Mallin is excited to return to Ephrata where she has performed at the Eicher Arts Center several times as a classically trained violinist.LR20150212_CEntKilmaine

“It’s a little untraditional for a library to have an event like this for fundraising, but I think it is smart and will be a great success,” said Mallin. “I think it’s a tragedy that libraries in this area are struggling. Libraries are a very important asset to the community.”

Mallin will be joined onstage with the rest of the Saints: frontman Brendan Power, Mike McNaughton on drums, Jon Heller on bass, guitarist Dave Nields, and Billy Brown on the Irish bouzouki (a stringed, plucked instrument), banjo, tin whistle, bagpipes, and more. The central PA-based band is also excited to support the Major Dick Winters Leadership Memorial Fund.

“We are proud to play a benefit for such a worthy cause,” said Mallin.

Honoring veterans and the history of war is something especially important to Steve Schlegel, manager of the band Down by the Glenside.

“It’s an honor for us to be able to perform at an event like this,” said Schlegel. “Honoring history is something that brought us together as a band. We started as a Civil War reenacting group.”

Founding members of the Celtic band met on the field of battle and realized their harmonies fit well together. The reenactors portrayed the 6th Louisiana Confederate unit, which was comprised of a large percentage of Irish immigrants. But to Schlegel, Shamrocks & Shenanigans hits a little closer to home than simply Irish heritage. His grandfather stormed the Normandy beach at Omaha on D-Day, so being able to assist with a WWII memorial is important to him.

“My grandfather was definitely my hero and a hero to the entire band,” said Schlegel.

Down By The Glenside

Down By The Glenside

The six-piece band consists of Brendan Zeigler on lead vocals and tin whistle, Brian Fink on fiddle, banjo player Richie Maggs, Marilyn Moedinger on vocals and tin whistle, Joe Pascuzzi on mandolin and bouzouki, guitarist Tom Webster, and Rob Riley on bodhran (a traditional, handheld Irish drum). Despite the Lancaster-based band’s involvement in the Civil War (albeit reenacted) the group has only a short tenure performing live to the public. Their last area performance — at St. Boniface Craft Brewing Company’s Irish Oktoberfest —\!q was well received.

Shamrocks & Shenanigans will also feature a performance by the Akron-based Hooley School of Irish Dance. Attendees and others are eligible to purchase raffle tickets for a variety of prizes, like an Irish-themed gift basket, a Kindle Fire with ear buds, and original photography by local artist and veteran Richard Lawrence. Tickets for the grand prize raffle for a trip to Ireland can be purchased for $25 each or five for $100.

All tickets can be purchased at Shamrocks & Shenanigans, in person at the library, or online at shamrocksandshenanigans.org. Raffle ticket holders do not need to be present to win.

Ashley hopes Shamrocks & Shenanigans brings awareness to the Winters memorial and hopes the venue will encourage partiers to further honor veterans. For the library benefits, she hopes the community takes full advantage of educational opportunities and the library’s free access to information.

“Hopefully this is the first of many successful events,” said Ashley.

Michael C. Upton works as a freelance writer specializing in arts and leisure, covering subjects ranging from funk punk to fine wine. He invites your comments and suggestions at facebook.com/SomebodiesProductions.

 

 

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