Irish Festival starts next week

March 10, 2018

By Pat Maurer
Review Correspondent

For 43 years, Clare has celebrated St. Patrick’s Day – the end of winter and the beginning of spring – with a huge festival in the City on the weekend closest to the holiday.
Carter the “cutie” showing off his first place ribbon in Witbeck’s annual Leprechaun Contest last year

Carter the “cutie” showing off his first place ribbon in Witbeck’s annual Leprechaun Contest last year

The annual event features loads of traditional and new events each year along with Celtic music and displays, Irish fare, green beer and lots of fun for everyone who attends the mid-March events.

The 43nd annual Clare Irish Festival begins next Wednesday March 14th

New festival events include:
*Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. It’s the “Kiss our Irish Ass” event sponsored by Crossroads Donkey Rescue taking place next in the Whitehouse Restaurant side yard. It’s not your traditional kissing booth… Donations will support the Crossroads Donkey Rescue.

*Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. it is the Hamburger Eating Contest at the Whitehouse Restaurant. Pre-registration is required.

*The Whitehouse Restaurant is also sponsoring the return of the Kids Poster Contest. Windows throughout the City will be featuring the posters designed by Clare’s Elementary students.

*The 2nd annual Irish Stew Cook-off judging at the Our Lady of Hope Social Hall on Saturday at 6 p.m. The public is invited to come and taste the results!

Wednesday (March 14) events at the festival will feature the first day of the famous Kathy Rynearson Memorial Food Drive held at Witbeck’s Family Foods parking lot to help our area’s needy families. The event runs through Saturday and is sponsored by Witbeck’s, Mid Michigan Community Action Agency and Northern Logistics.

The 515 Gallery in Clare will host the Celtic Ray Show exhibit by three Muskegon area artists including Tim Norris, Patricia Opel and Chip Zanderwier. The exhibit, based on interpretations of ancient Celtic legend and lore, includes paintings, sculptures, ceramic and steel. The gallery is open Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the exhibit will be on display through March 30th.

Food and entertainments can be found Wednesday at the Heart of Michigan Café with drink specials, Irish food, drawings, cash prizes and more in front of the Cafe. The Herrick House and Mulberry Café will be offering corned beef and cabbage dinners all week long.

Wednesday evening brings the 5 to 7 p.m. Business After Hours at the Doherty Hotel, sponsored once again by the Mercantile Bank. Attendees are encouraged to bring canned food items for the Kathy Rynearson Memorial Food Drive to help celebrate the many contributions Kathy made to the Clare Irish Festival.

The Business After Hours will be followed by the annual Big Brothers/Big Sister live and silent auctions at 6:30 p.m. at the Hotel.

Thursday evening you can sample some fantastic Irish dishes at the Irish Recipe Contest. Held beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Clare High School Cafeteria. Both kids and adults will be participating in the contest and everyone will have a chance to sample the Irish fare after the judges pick the winners, while listening to the Terpening Studio of Music Community Children’s Choir perform.

From the Cafeteria it is just a few steps across the commons to the High School Gymnasium where the Gateway Community Band and Gateway Community Chorus will begin their performance at 7:30 p.m.
To complete the evening, Ruckles Pier will feature a live DJ from 9 p.m. to close.

Friday evening the annual Children’s Kickoff Carnival will be held at the Clare Primary School from 5 to 7 p.m. will fun and games for all the area youngsters.

For entertainment and food, The Clare-Farwell American Legion between Clare and Farwell will be open to the public from noon to 9 p.m. with special prices and live music by Jaimie on keys from 2 to 5 p.m. and Gabe Couch from 5 to 8 p.m.

The Clare Eagles will serve Irish food from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. with their delicious Fish fry from 5 to 8 p.m. Irish fare and entertainment will also be on tap at the Clare Moose Family Center just west of the City.

The Doherty Hotel will feature Finnegan at 3 p.m. and Kevin Chamberlain at 8 p.m. in the Leprechaun Lounge and Night Shift in The Ballroom at 8 p.m.; Four Leave Brewing will feature the Palooka Brothers with traditional music at 7 p.m.’ and Gateway Lanes and The Peppermint Lounge will feature Exit 95 band.

Ruckles Pier will feature a live DJ and Corned Beef and Cabbage specials from 9 p.m. to closing.

A Mass for the Fest of St. Patrick will be held at Our Lady of Hope Parrish at 3 p.m. and the Knights of Columbus will have an all you can eat fish fry from 4 to 7 p.m.

Saturday is traditionally the biggest day of the Irish Festival and there will be loads of events all day long starting with an all-you-can eat Pancake Breakfast at the United Methodist Church Fellow ship Hall from 7 to 11 a.m.

Put on your “Irish” for the Leprechaun Contest sponsored by and held at Witbeck’s Family Foods at 8:45 a.m. or come and see all of the unique costumes with winners in several age groups.

From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. the Clare Primary School will host the Irish Festival Craft Show and Marketplace with unique and unusual crafts from all over the area all through the building.

The annual Irish Festival 5K/10K/2 Mile Walk Road Race begins at the Clare High School at 9 a.m. sharp.

At 10:45, also at the High School, the Free Kid’s Fun Run will be held. That event is sponsored by MidMichigan Health, Mercantile Bank, the Clare Family Fitness Center, Clare Hometown Chiropractic, Jay’s Sporting Good, J.T. Bakers of Clare, Subway of Clare, and Owens Water.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. St John’s Lutheran Church will offer Potato soup, corn beef and cabbage soup, and hot dogs, all by donation.

The Irish Festival Bed Races, always a load of fun, will begin at 10:30 a.m. or the corner of McEwan and State Street at the Mercantile Bank lot.

From 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Roving Irish Musicians, the While Pine Pipes and Drums will be performing around the City.

JT Bakers will host a free cupcake decorating event from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Clare Family Farm and Home on the north side of town will host a special St. Patty’s Day Adoption event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. sponsored by the Clare Animal Shelter. The dogs will also be in the Irish Parade at noon.

If you just love dancing, Newman’s School of Dance will hold a pre-dance event at 10:30 a.m. at Clare Castle and will perform in front of the Main Stage on Fourth Street at 11:30 a.m.

A Flyover by pilots from the Clare Area Pilots Association will kick off the annual Irish Parade through town at noon. The parade will travel from Wilcox to Third Street along McEwan.

The Main Stage opens downtown at 1 p.m. featuring an Irish Pub and entertainment by three bands with a variety of music.

From 2 to 4 p.m. it’s fun with the Euchre Tournament, which will be ongoing at Four Leaf Brewing.

And done forget the Irish Stew Cook at Our Lady of Hope Parish at 6 p.m.; the announcement of the Pet Photo Contest winners at the Main Stage at 6 p.m. The photo contest proceeds will go towards the Spay/Neuter Animal Project.

6 p.m. also is when the Irish Cash Raffle winners will be announced at Cops and Doughnuts.

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