The 12th annual Half Paddy Festival takes place this weekend at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Kankakee.
The festival is the church’s celebration halfway to St. Patrick’s Day because “it’s too much fun to have just once a year,” the festival states on its website.
The festival, scheduled from 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and noon to 11 p.m. Saturday, provides free music, food and fun for all ages.
Anyone and everyone is welcome to come, said festival co-chair Jen Trudeau.
“It’s definitely not just a parish event, and there’s something for all ages,” she said.
Admission into the festival is free, though attendees do have the option to purchase food and raffle tickets to benefit the church.
Though the festival’s inclusion of music, food options and raffle opportunities remain the same, this year’s festival features a new bar bingo from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday.
“It’s like business after hours,” said Trudeau, who is the co-chair alongside Rory Mulcahy.
Anyone is welcome to play bingo, of course, but it’s geared toward businessmen just coming to the festival after a long day’s work, Trudeau explained.
Similar to previous years, the festival features a strong lineup of seven musicians, including popular acts who’ve performed at Merchant Street MusicFest and prior Half Paddy festivals.
The music begins Friday with performances by country acts Iron Horse at 5 p.m. and Nick Lynch at 9:20 p.m.
Saturday’s lineup includes Irish-inspired acts Beyond the Pale, performing at 2 p.m., and The Hatfield Sisters, performing at 5:20 p.m. Also performing are the acoustic duo Make it a Double, taking the stage at 6:40 p.m., and the Heartland rocker siblings known as The Cerny Brothers, who begin at 8 p.m.
This year, Flirting with Time is making its debut performance in the Kankakee area. The Chicago-based band is a tribute to late singer-songwriter Tom Petty. Flirting with Time will be featured as the last act of the festival, performing at 9:30 p.m. Saturday night.
“The musical acts will be sure to draw a crowd,” Trudeau said. “Pretty much all genres and musical tastes are represented here.”
Food will be served on both days by The Country Table Catering from the Knights of Columbus in Kankakee and includes a full menu of Irish-inspired eats, including corned beef sandwiches and Irish nachos, as well as standard selections such as hot dogs and pizza.
Alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks, including Guinness on tap, will be available to purchase during the festival.
In between the music, food and drinks, attendees also can participate in cake walks. The adults’ cake walk is scheduled for 9 p.m. Saturday, while the kids’ cake walks will take place in the afternoon Saturday and then again in the evening. A separate kids’ tent also will be available Saturday.
Like every year, the church will hold a special Blue Mass procession to honor all law enforcement and emergency first responders. The memorial will gather at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the Kankakee courthouse lawn, then march down Indiana Avenue, ending at the church for the Blue Mass to take place from 4 to 5 p.m. All people of any faith are welcome to attend.