By Pat Maurer
The 42nd annual Clare Irish Festival, with loads of traditional events and a whole slew of new ones, begins next Wednesday March 15.
Brand new events for this year’s festival include a chance to win with the “Luck of the Irish ARTfordable machine Saturday between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday. Pull the lucky shamrock and win a $35 Art Alley tile!
Then at 5:30 p.m. it is the Irish Stew Cook-off judging at the Our Lady of Hope Social Hall.
Also on Saturday at 3 p.m., Four Leaf Brewing will sponsor a Euchre Tournament and the Main Stage Area at the corner of McEwan and Fifth Street will be headquarters for “Adult Irish Games.”
The Main Stage with WCFX 95.3 is also be where you can enjoy a variety of entertainment including music by the Scottsville Clown Band, traditional Irish and other kinds of music and dancers while you enjoy food and beverages provided by local businesses.
Saturday’s entertainment lineup includes the Newman School of Dance from 2 to 2:30; The Mark Daisy Rock Band from 3 to 4:30 p.m.; and from 5 to 7 p.m. classic rock.
You won’t want to miss the Frozen T-shirt Contest there at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Registration for that even begins at noon at Stitches for Britches on Fourth Street.
From Wednesday through Saturday, you can join the Pub Crawl. Visit participating establishments and then turn in you filled punch card for a chance to win a large screen TV in the drawing on Sunday at noon!
Sunday brings another chance to win with the McDonald’s Chrysler “Lucky Leprechaun Pool Tournament beginning at noon at Gateway Lanes. Twenty teams will complete for a $500 prize fund.
There will be chances to win all weekend long. Be sure and get your raffle ticket for a chance to win $1,000; $500, $300, or $100 in the annual Irish Raffle. The drawing is on Saturday at the CFX Main Stage at 6 p.m.
Along with all of these great new events are the tried and true traditional ones that have been a big part of the Irish Festival for many years.
The annual Kathy Rynearson Memorial Food Drive is ongoing in Witbeck’s parking lot. The event which helps area families will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is sponsored by Mid Michigan Community Action Agency, Northern Logistics and Witbeck’s.
And even with events going on for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, the Irish festivities in Clare will just be getting a good start.
Irish Festivities and tasty Irish fare will be available all over town:
Bowlers will enjoy the events at Gateway Lanes and the Lounge on McEwan. The annual Best Frame Doubles Tournament starts Friday at 5:30 p.m. and continues Saturday at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m., 7 p.m. and winds up Sunday at 1 p.m. with $1,800 in cash prizes guaranteed to the winners.
The Lanes will have Rock & Glow Bowl Friday at 8:30 p.m., and Saturday at 9 p.m. and then of course Sunday will be Lucky Leprechaun Pool Tournament.
Other events include food and a variety of special entertainment at the Clare Eagles, the Doherty Hotel, Farwell’s American Legion Post, The Our Lady of Hope Fish Fry, the Clare Moose Family Center, The Evening Post, Four Leaf Brewing, Gateway Lanes and the Lounge and Ruckle’s Pier.
Kids from all over will have a blast at the Children’s Kickoff Carnival from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday evening at the Clare Primary School.
And then, tomorrow (Saturday), the big day of the Irish Festival arrives with almost too many events to list!
The day begins with a Pancake Breakfast from 7 to 11 a.m. at the United Methodist Church.
At 8:45 a.m. you will want to be at Witbeck’s Family Foods for the Leprechaun Costume Contest and at 9 a.m. the 5K/10K/2Mile Walk Road Race will begin at the Clare High School followed by the Free Kids Fun Run there at 10:45 a.m.
Of course the annual Irish Festival Craft Show and Marketplace will be ongoing from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Clare Primary School. Chamber Director Pam Laughlin said, “As part of Clare’s 42nd annual Irish Festival, we have assembled a phenomenal group of high quality crafters for this year’s craft show. Attendees will be amazed by the artistic skill. With jewelry, glass etching and wood products available, there is something here for everyone! The show runs from 9-4 on Saturday, March 18th at the Clare Primary School at 205 E. Wheaton St. Entry is free. The first 100 attendees with the attached entry ticket will be entered into a drawing for door prizes.”
Kids will enjoy cookie decorating at JT Bakers from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. When lunch rolls around you can have some great potato soup, corned beef and cabbage or a hot dog for free at St. John’s Lutheran Church at the north end of the city. Or stop in at the Clare Eagles, the Doherty Hotel or a variety of food establishments around town for more traditional Irish fare.
To celebrate the day, the annual big Irish Festival Parade will begin its trek through town at noon and even local pilots will get in on the act with a noon flyover by the Clare Pilots Association.
This year’s Irish Festival Grand Marshal is business owner and community supporter Tammy Teall who has dedicated countless hours to improve the community and sponsored many events in the area.
For many years, one of the highlights of the Irish Parade has been the Scottsville Clown Band, whose unique brand of fun has become a Clare Irish Festival tradition. They will not only entertain the crowds at the parade, they will be at the Clare Moose Family Center afterwards from 2 to 4 p.m. to wow everyone who can squeeze into the building for their performance.
There’s truly something for everyone at the Irish festivities in Clare Saturday.
Craft wine lovers will have a special treat Saturday at Brewin on McEwan from 7 to 10 p.m. They can make their own Wine Fusion with Modern Wine Craft Founder Tom Nixon.
This year even the U.S. Army will get their “Irish on” with an interactive experience called Strength in Action immediately following the parade.
Another traditional event will take place at a new time this year when the annual Bed Races take place beginning at 1:30 p.m. Line-up is at the Mercantile Bank and the finish line is at Fifth Street and McEwan.
There will be Physic Medium Readings from 2 to 3 p.m. on McEwan Street sponsored by Always Healing.
For the little ones the Little Leprechaun Lot will be open on McEwan Street from 2 to 6 p.m. with games, a bounce house and even a Ferris wheel.
Card players will want to get in on the 3 p.m. Euchre Tournament at Four Leaf Brewing.
Pets will even get in on the act with the Irish Pet Photo Contest. The winners will be announced at 6 p.m. at the Main Stage.
Irish music lovers will hear some beautiful tunes when the White Pine Pipe Band’s Roving Irish Musicians appear on the scene.
And Clare County Transit will make it easy to attend as many of the events as possible. With a $3 wristband, ride to the Doherty Hotel the Moose Family Center, Gateway Lanes, Days Inn, the Clare Primary School, Pettit Park and Jay’s Sporting Goods. Get your wristband on the bus at any of the stops.
A FREE “Safe Ride will also be running from Ruckle’s Pier to the Day’s Inn every half hour from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. All you need to do is call Don at 989-400-3115 for a ride.
For more information visit www.clareirish festival.com. It’s time to “Get Your Irish On” in Clare this weekend!