Dublin Villager

Dublin Irish Festival

Volunteers an essential part of event's annual success

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More than 1,200 volunteers will work 1,700 shifts at the Dublin Irish Festival this weekend.

The festival -- which this year runs Friday through Sunday, Aug. 1-3, in Coffman Park has long relied on volunteers to man the gates, help with set up, run children's activities and more.

"They are physically at 60 different assignments," said Dublin Volunteer Coordinator Christine Nardecchia.

"There's the leadership committee that plans and works year round," Nardecchia said.

"Then we start Wednesday with set up for volunteers and Thursday they help at the 5K as corner marshals and check people in," she said.

"They work into Monday when we have cleanup volunteers."

With volunteers that range in age from 8 to 90, many return year after year, Nardecchia said.

"There are 60 different assignments," she said. "That's one of the reasons they come back year to year. We want them to leave being thrilled."

Lisa and Nick Bova have volunteered at the festival since the 1990s and have been working with the hospitality committee since 2004.

"I travel a lot and my husband does, too, in his job," Lisa Bova said. "I felt disconnected and it was a thing to connect me with my community."

The Irish Festival got Bova so connected with her community that she and her husband have been leaders of the hospitality committee for the past few years.

"It's a time I tell my employers and clients I can't do anything," she said. "It connected me with the community and it's in my heart."

As chairwoman of the hospitality committee, Bova said the Sunday religious services are the only part of the festival she usually sees, but the work is worth it.

The hospitality committee runs a special area for entertainers and presenters at the festival and makes sure they get where they need to go whether it be their hotel or a stage.

The Green Room and the Celtic Canteen in the recreation center give entertainers a place to grab some food, relax, charge their phones or just cool off.

"They need someplace to cool down and take a call from their manager or do band work off stage," Bova said.

"There's entertainment and relaxation. ... There are couches, ping pong (and) games."

Nick Bova's face is often the first entertainers see when they arrive in central Ohio for the festival.

"He spends almost 14 hours a day at the airport waiting," Bova said.

Under the Bova's leadership, the hospitality committee has grown offerings and created an area to hold entertainers instruments so they can go out and enjoy the festival after performances.

Coming back year after year, Bova said she feels like she's entertaining at home.

"I feel like these are all our friends coming here to Dublin," she said. "We want to show what life would be like if you lived here."

"Lisa and Nick take great care in making sure entertainers are taken care of," Nardecchia said. "(Entertainers) get a good meal, are hydrated and well-rested. ... They're fantastic leaders because their mission is to say 'this is Dublin and we never want you to forget you're here.' "

Bova, however, said the committee couldn't run without the help of other members including Denae and Kevin Sullivan, Wendy Bell and Nora Dorian.

For more information about the Dublin Irish Festival and its thousands of volunteers, look online at Dublinirishfestival.org.

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