A night of music and laughter is scheduled for Masone Beach in Island Park on July 27, when the Dorothy Finn Foundation hosts the 10th annual Finn Fest.
The foundation was created by the Finn family in memory of the late Dorothy Finn, in honor of her charitable spirit and as a way to carry on her legacy of helping those in need. Finn, a longtime Long Beach resident, was an active member of the Long Beach and Island Park communities.
“She was an animal rescuer and a tap dancer,” said Norah Kelleher, Dorothy’s daughter. “She taught kids with learning disabilities and underprivileged kids how to dance.”
The foundation continues Finn’s charitable work by donating money and time to animal and pet rescue shelters, music programs and instruments for underprivileged children. It has donated to organizations such as Bobbi and the Strays Animal Rescue, the Catskill Animal Sanctuary, Second Chance Animal Rescue and Little Flower Orphanage of Long Island.
Finn began dancing when she was 4 years old and living in New York City. When she was 12, she started teaching dance at the Henry Street Settlement House, where she learned under the tutelage of famed theater choreographer and dance instructor Henry LeTang.
After settling in Long Beach with her husband, Charlie Finn, a New York City police officer, and their two children, Brendan and Nonie, Dororthy continued teaching children in her basement and choreographing dance routines for charitable fundraisers such as the Men’s Club of St. Ignatius, the Catholic Daughters of the Americas and Project Challenge. She also continued teaching in Manhattan, at the request of her brother, the late William Hickey, an actor who had roles in “Prizzi’s Honor” and “Christmas Vacation.”
Finn’s charitable endeavors included spending many hours at a humane society feeding homeless dogs and cats, cleaning their cages, collecting money and finding homes for them. She also danced well into her 80s, entertaining at local nursing homes and veterans hospitals.
“After she died, I decided to keep her name alive,” Kelleher said. “I’m a musician and retired cop, [and] I always wanted to run a music festival, so I thought it would be a great idea.”
This year’s Finn Fest features the Grammy-winning Rebirth Brass Band, a funky New Orleans group, as well as two stages hosting more than 20 bands throughout the afternoon. Featured performances include The THE BAND Band, Half Step, Mountain Jam Orchestra, Wine With Sue, Breakaway, Dave Kellan Band, So Was Red, Mook Justice, Arturo Rivera, Rock Bottom, Gypsy Grey, Studio Noir Jazztet, Katz & Co, The Knobz and DJ Kahuna.
There will also be a comedy tent, with comedians such as Mike Keegan, Steve Schlesinger, Mike Toohey, Brendan Healy and Carla Oakerson. The tent will host John Ariden Dueling Pianos.
The Neapolitan Express, Matty Smokes BBQ, Captain Mike’s, and Kona Ice food trucks and concessions will be on site, and beer will be available for purchase throughout the day.
“It’s a barefoot-dancing-in-the-grass kind of fundraiser,” Kelleher said, “which features various regional and local musical acts, food vending, craft beers and wine along with raffles for great prizes.”
Since 2009, Island Park residents and people from across Nassau County have attended Finn Fest. The event has grown from being attended by only a handful of people in its infancy to having 1,000 attendees flock to Island Park last summer.
Portions of the ticket sales will be donated to the Dorothy Finn Foundation, while a percentage will be given to animal rescue shelters and music shops. “It’s a great day,” Kelleher said. “We have food vendors, craft vendors and local artists.”