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The Times
  • 10th annual Great American Irish Festival this weekend

  • The Great American Irish Festival started small — it began as a one-day festival 10 years ago.

    That first festival drew 7,000 people and the organizers realized one day would not be enough. Now, the festival takes place over three days and draws more than 50,000.

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  • The Great American Irish Festival started small — it began as a one-day festival 10 years ago.
    That first festival drew 7,000 people and the organizers realized one day would not be enough. Now, the festival takes place over three days and draws more than 50,000.
    The 10th annual Great American Irish Festival will take place Friday through Sunday at the Herkimer County Fairgrounds on Cemetery Street in Frankfort.
    Mark Sisti, chairman of entertainment for the festival, said before the festival was created, there was no celebration for the Irish.
    “A group of people realized that while there were German, Italian and Polish groups in the area, there was no Irish group, and they decided they should have one,” he said.
    The event brings in some of the biggest names in Irish music from around the world. This year’s entertainment includes Enter the Haggis, The Elders and Seven Nations, among others.
    “We’re very excited about this year’s lineup,” said festival director Matthew Sullivan. “We’re bringing back old favorites and introducing our audience to new acts. With three days of non-stop entertainment, there is sure to be something for everyone. You don’t have to be Irish to have a good time at the Great American Irish Festival.”
    Another part of the musical entertainment is bagpipes.
    “It’s just something special to hear hundreds of bagpipes all playing the same thing,” Sisti said.
    But music is not the only attraction. There will be Irish and Celtic merchandise for sale, a “wee folks” area for the children and a teen zone.
    “Some of it is educational, but some of it is pure entertainment,” Sisti said.
    Part of the pure entertainment is the sports. On Saturday there will be a Gaelic football tournament, and on Sunday there will be a rugby tournament, complete with trophies for the winners.
    Though they are hoping for a sunny weekend, Sisti said it doesn’t really matter if it rains.
    “Almost everything is under cover,” he said. “The only way you’ll get wet is if you want to.
    “Fun is what it’s all about,” he added. “It’s impossible not to have fun and you don’t have to be Irish to have fun.”
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