As a three day event, the JFK Dunbrody Festival draws locals and tourists in large numbers. In fact, each summer, up to 20 to 30 thousand people attend the New Ross event. This attendance and the resulting attention has increased the international standing of the town and the surrounding area, resulting in solid, long lasting economic benefits to the local communities.
Each year, the event is organized by the JFK Trust and includes fun zones, food markets, and live music each evening. Local residents say the event has become the highlight of the summer.
Festival highlights include:
1) The Dunbrody Famine Ship:
Beginning in February 2001, the primary festival highlight, the Dunbrody Famine Ship, has been moored at the Quayside in New Ross. This ship is the Festival Focal Point and provides first class, in fact, a world-class tourist experience. The exhibits on the Dunbrody ship both educates and entertains at the same time.
The ship is an authentic, 1840’s emigrant vessle replica and guided tours along wiht costumed actors focus on famine emigrant experience.
2) Ross food and craft fest:
Located at New Ross Quayside and sponsored by local businesses, the ‘Ross Food and Craft Fest’ is a daily event. This display of foods and crafts is similar to a farmers market where event attendees, both local and tourists, can experience the taste of local fruits, vegetables and other cooked food along with many, specialty crafts, specific to New Ross and surrounding areas..
Related to “food”, several additional entertaining events are offered throughout the town over the entire three day festival. These include a Carnival, called Funfair, at the towns central park, a Chilli cook-off and a Pie eating contest. The three days is lots of fun!
3) The South Street Al Fresco puppet theater:
For 2017, arrive early for seating because the, always enjoyable, South Street Al Fresco, string puppet marionette show, will be back. The two lead puppet characters, Moon and Sixpence will present a witty version of Huckelberry Finn. One of the cast of puppet characters urges children to be stewards of the earth and pick up the surrounding trash and place all of it in the nearby trash barrels. With accompanying music and sound effects, the puppets encourage lots of participation from both young and old members of the audience. Yep, it’s real fun stuff!
Also, for your enjoyment, there will be plenty of snacks and beverages from the local food markets, cafés and Irish pubs.
4) Picnic in the Park:
The fantastic ‘Picnic in the Park’ is on Sunday of the event, usually beginning at 2pm. The entire family is welcome. There are plenty of games as well as other local entertainment. On the food side, there are very healthy, organic food offerings if you don’t bring your own food.
In addition, there are clubs / groups / organizations that be displaying their goods and services as well as groups offering entertainment and activities for the kids. There will also be a modern dance demonstration, Irish dancing, line dancing for your participation and enjoyment.
There is also a broadcast from a local radio station and giveaways – provided by our local Irish and Irish American sponsors.
5) The Pirate Festival.
At the Hook Lighthouse there is pirate themed fun. This is great fun for the kids with games and costumes and guest appearances by some famed pirates – Captain Hook, who will provide a cooking demonstration.