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Irish Celtic Festival serves Irish Relay on tap

The Lakewood Ranch event launches new attraction to rival Lucky Dog Parade.

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  • | 6:00 a.m. March 9, 2016
Twelve-year-old Buttercup and her owner, Ronna Williams, are frequent participants in the Lucky Dog Parade.
Twelve-year-old Buttercup and her owner, Ronna Williams, are frequent participants in the Lucky Dog Parade.
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Make no bones about it, the Lucky Dog Parade has been the most popular event at the Irish Celtic Festival.

What's not to love about pooches dressed in oversized green hats with shamrocks hanging from their tails? Once again, on Saturday, March 12, nearly 50 dog owners and their furry friends will parade through Greenbrook Adventure Park in honor of St. Patrick's Day.

This year, though, the Lucky Dog Parade might have some competition for favorite event. Festival organizer Francis Shea has added an Irish Relay race, which begins at 1 p.m.

"This year, the event's committee thought we should do something for humans, too," Shea said.

Teams of four will navigate through four beer stations, which each feature a different brew participants must chug before running to the next station.

"Some people drink fast," Shea said. "But a good beer drinker doesn’t waste a drop and enjoys the beer, which is why we'll give prizes to first- and last-place finishers.

"What's more "Irish" than drinking beer? We find this festival generally attracts beer drinkers. The only other type of event that might have more beer drinks is Oktoberfest."

The event will feature new entertainment this year, with performances by Cahal Dunne, the Cawte Dance Academy of Lakewood Ranch, Ballads & Bodhrans and others. A tent will offer shade to those enjoying the performances.

In prior years, Shea noticed attendees left around 2 p.m., because of the heat and exposure to the sun. He hopes the tent will encourage people to stay longer, and will help attract a crowd of at least 5,000.

"Each year we try to improve things," Shea said. "Most people come for the entertainment. They want to sit down, listen to music, and see the dogs parade around. Now, they're also going to be entertained by silly adults running around."


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