August 17, 2008

Irish Fest Kicks Off Tonight


If you can't find yourself a good time at Irish Fest, then there's nothing to be done for you.

This year's festival theme focuses on Galway and includes a contest for the best amateur version of the old folk song "Galway Bay." Before the festival started, amateur musicians submitted their samples for judging by officials from the festival and musical experts from Ireland.

Other events not to miss this weekend: the freckle contest Saturday afternoon at the Crossroads Stage; and the red hair contest in the same place on Sunday afternoon. Winners are selected in three age groups. Trust me, you won't see more spots at a giraffe convention.

The Celtic canine area has daily agility and skills demonstrations by some of the nine breeds of dogs native to Ireland.

And at the Moore St. Market, Belleek pottery expert Tony Hearty will appraise visitors' pieces. Hearty is one of the world's foremost experts in this fine, decorative china from the Emerald Isle. He frequently appears on England's "Antique Road Show." Hearty has some of his own collection on display at the festival, a first for Irish Fest.

The Dance pavilion will have daily lessons in ceili and Irish set dancing.

And if you'd like a bit of a break from the many forms of Irish music available at the festival, consider a visit to the McGouthy's Tipperary Stage, where you can get an earful of the Scottish Sampler. This is the collective name for several Scottish musicians appearing at the festival, some of them for the first time.

Irish Fest runs from 4 to midnight tonight, noon to midnight Saturday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday at Maier Festival Park, 200 Harbor Drive. Admission is $15. For more information, see

-- Mary-Liz Shaw

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