PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Neither rain nor thunder could stop thousands from celebrating their Irish heritage at the Peoria Irish Festival. The event is a joint effort between the St. Patrick Society of Peoria and the Peoria Park District.

Co-coordinator John Martin said Sunday’s strong rain added to the authenticity of the festival.

“This is a little bit of Ireland. The sign says when you come across the railroad track you’re leaving Illinois and coming to Ireland on the river. In Ireland, it rains,” said Martin.

Martin said this is the 42nd year for the festival and the 28th year it has been held on the Peoria Riverfront.

Jake Lamb has been attending for at least 15 years. He said was even a volunteer before he started his family of five, and he hopes the tradition continues with his kids.

“I hope they bring their kids. I hope Peoria keeps growing the way it is and the Irish Fest stays going for a long time,” said Lamb.

The festival is the second largest Celtic festival in Illinois. Martin said the goal and importance of the event is to keep the Irish culture alive in the area.

“We want to keep the heritage of the Irish people, which is about 20% of the population in this area, alive. They need to see their culture, their dance, their music,” he said.

Come sunshine or rain, Martin is looking forward to welcoming thousands again next year.

“Rain doesn’t stop us. We’ll be having one again next year,” Martin said.