The Irish Celtic Festival will put the green back into Greenbrook Adventure Park March 11 for the first time since 2020.
Cancelled in 2021 due to the pandemic and last year due to rain, the Lakewood Ranch Community Activities' festival returns with all its Irish food and drink, the live music, and the Lucky Dog Parade.
More than 1,500 people are expected to attend the 2023 events. They will, of course, be dressed in green.
“Seeing everyone get all decked out in green is so much fun,” said Aliye Presley, the marketing and events manager for Lakewood Ranch Community Activities. “Those who come from Irish heritage are proud to represent and really make this festival the staple that it is.”
Some consider themselves descendants from Irish heritage for just one afternoon.
“We are bringing back Irish Celtic Festival favorites and making this our best year yet,” Presley said. “This event has become part of the fabric of Lakewood Ranch year after year. One piece of this festival that is near and dear to the hearts of so many locals is the memory of Frank Shea.”
Shea, who died Jan. 17, 2020 at age 59, founded the festival because he wanted to have cultural celebrations that were similar to those he attended at his previous home in Boston. He decided to have a small St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the Lakewood Ranch Town Hall parking lot in 2011. The next year, he started the Irish Celtic Festival.
“Celebrating Irish culture was a passion of his that has become such a staple of our community events,” Presley said.
Shea died of cancer Jan. 17, 2020 at 59 years old but he had organized the 2020 festival that ran later that year.
A full schedule of Irish bands and pipers, including Cahal Dunne, Celtic Conundrum, Lion Rampant Pipe and Drum and Blue Skye Pipes and Drums will provide entertainment on the stage and around the festival.
Food trucks will offer special Irish-themed menus with traditional dishes created just for the Irish Celtic Festival, Presley said.
The festival won’t just be entertaining for people, but their furry friends as well.
People can register their dogs for the Lucky Dog Parade where awards will be given for dogs that are “most Irish” and “cutest” as well as for the dog and owner look-alike contest. The Lucky Dog Parade will benefit the Animal Rescue Coalition.
People also can participate in the relay race, which will consist of a course around Greenbrook Adventure Park. MVP Sports and Social will conduct the race.