Countdown to Irish Fest – 12 days

February 28, 2019

By Pat Maurer

With the arrival of March, thoughts of spring and the upcoming Clare Irish Festival are on everyone’s mind.

The 45th annual Irish Festival will officially begin in a week and a half in Clare with the beginning of the annual Kathy Rynearson Memorial Food Drive at Witbeck’s Family Foods on Wednesday morning (from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the traditional Business After Hours from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Doherty Hotel with the Big Brothers Big Sisters annual Live and Silent Auction beginning there at 6 p.m. Four Leaf brewing will join the fun with traditional Irish Pub Trivia beginning that evening.

 2018 Irish Festival Parade Photo by Jordon Wilcox

2018 Irish Festival Parade Photo by Jordon Wilcox

The food drive continues on Thursday, collecting for the needy in the area, and for a sample of some traditional Irish Fare in the evening (5:30 p.m.), stop by the Clare High School for the annual Irish Recipe Contest.  Afterwards, a trip across the commons to the gymnasium brings some great music as the Gateway Community Band and Chorus present their annual Irish Concert (7:30 p.m.) and both events are free! From 7 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, March 14th, the Palooka Brother Irish Session will be ongoing at Four Leaf Brewing and at 9 p.m. a Live DJ will be “on-tap” at Ruckle’s Pier.

Friday, March 15th the fun continues with drink specials and fun Irish food at the Heart of Michigan Café from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Irish Food Specials from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Herrick House Mulberry Café; Grasshoppers, Green Beer, Corned Beef Dinners and Reubens to enjoy while listening to a Live DJ at the Evening Post from 8 a.m. to close; the Finnegan Irish Duo at the Doherty from 3 to 7 p.m.; and the Largest Dance, Drink, Food Party in Clare at the Venue 501 from 6 p.m. to midnight.

The Coyote Creek Band will perform from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday at the Clare Moose Lodge with Irish Sandwich Specials, while Exit 95 & Keven Chamberlain will be at the Doherty Hotel. Ruckles Pier will feature a live DJ from 9 p.m. to closing time with corned Beef and Cabbage Specials.

The annual Best Frame Doubles Tournament, a DJ and Karaoke at Gateway Lanes and the Lounge begins at 6 p.m. Friday.

All of the above simply whets the appetite for all of the events coming on Saturday, the biggest day of the Irish Festival!

The day begins with a 7-11 a.m. Pancake Breakfast at the United Methodist Church (entry is free); the annual Leprechaun Contest Witbeck’s Family Foods beginning at 8:45 a.m. with unique costumes judged from babies to adults and the annual Irish Festival Craft Show and Marketplace from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Clare Primary School.

Coming up next on the busy schedule is All Day Trivia with a DJ, Dancing and Karaoke in the Peppermint Lounge at Gateway Lanes, where the Best Frame Doubles Tournament continues.

At 9 a.m. the Irish Festival 5K/10K Road Race and 2Mile Walk takes off at the Clare High School. Signup for the event at HTTP://RUNSIGNUP.COM/RACE/MI/CLARE/CLAREROADRACE.

The race is followed by a free Kids Fun Run which also begins at the high school.

While walking around downtown Clare, stop by the Whitehouse Restaurant where the “Come Kiss Our Irish Ass! Event takes place. Donations from the “not your traditional kissing booth” will benefit the Cross Roads Donkey Rescue.

The Clare Historic Depot will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a special grand opening of the new gift shop there, sponsored by the Clare Arts Council and the Chamber of Commerce.

10:30 a.m. marks the lineup for the always fun Bed Races at the Mercantile Bank Parking Lot where the most unusual beds on wheels to see this year get ready for the great race down McEwan Street from State Street to the corner of 5th.

Prepare to be entertained on Saturday.

Entertainment sponsored by WCFX will be ongoing from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at the 3rd annual Main Stage on the east side of McEwan at the corner of 4th Street; and Neuman’s School of Dance will be performing at the 4th and McEwan intersection at 11:30 a.m.

The Neuman performance will be the lead-in for this year’s 45th annual Clare Irish Parade, led by a Parade Flyover Kickoff by the Clare Area Pilots Association at noon. The parade once again will feature the Scottville Clown Band, who will also be performing at the Clare Moose Lodge at 2 p.m.

From noon until closing time there will be a Live DJ at Ruckle’s Pier and from 1 p.m. to midnight the Largest Dance, Drink Food Party in Clare continues at the Venue 501 on the corner of 4th and McEwan.

From 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Stephanie Turpening will be on the Patio at the Evening Post and from 7 p.m. to midnight Exit 95 will perform at the Evening Post on the Patio. And, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Hobby Karaoke will be held at the Clare Moose Lodge The Smalltown Band will perform at Four Leaf Brewing.

Beginning at 3 p.m. the Finnegan Irish Duo will be at the Doherty Hotel while from 8 p.m. to midnight, two bands, Exit 95 & The Real Deal – Blues You Can’t Refuse and Sound Production’s DJ will perform at the Doherty.

For fans of Irish cuisine, another big event this year is the 3rd annual Irish Stew Cook Off at Our Lady of Hope Parish Hall from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Entry is free and awards will be presented, and there will Irish fiddling at the cook off at 5:30 p.m.

In fact there will be drink special and Irish food all over the community Saturday: From 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Heart of Michigan Cafe; from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Herrick House Mulberry Café; an All Day Pizza Buffet and special at Buccilli’s Pizza; All Day Street-side Food at Cops and Doughnuts; a 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Soup Luncheon at St. Johns’ Lutheran Church with Potato and Corn Beef with Cabbage soup by donation; Irish Food Specials at the Moose Lodge; and a Smoke Pit Barbecue Food Truck at Four Leaf Brewing from noon to closing time.

Wind up the afternoon with the Irish Pet Photo Contest and Cash Raffle Winners announced on a live Facebook Broadcast at Cops and Doughnuts at 6 p.m.

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