It’s July in the Mohawk Valley, which means the Great American Irish Festival is right around the corner. The 2012 edition of the festival will kick off on Friday, July 27, from 5 to 11 p.m. and will continue Saturday, July 28, from noon to 11 p.m., and Sunday, July 29, from noon to 5 p.m.
This year the festival, which will take place at the Herkimer County Fairgrounds, will feature four different stages, including a contemporary and traditional stage with all-day entertainment. More than 30 Irish bands from across the country as well as international acts are scheduled to perform.
According to festival director Matt Sullivan, a bagpipe band competition will take place for grades four, five and six pipers and a mass bagpipe march will take place Saturday afternoon. As part of the competition, bagpipers will be judged by the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association.
The festival offers something for everybody no matter what a person’s age.
“The festival is a family fun event and there is something for everyone to enjoy,” said Sullivan.
The festival will offer a “Wee Folks” area where children can enjoy bounce houses, face painting and a variety of games with prizes. The “Teen Zone” will offer teenagers various games such as fooze ball, air hockey, Ping-Pong, volleyball and jousting. For those who enjoy shopping there will be several vendors on site selling Irish and Celtic goods. Food, wine, and beer will also be available.
The Cultural Building at the Great American Irish Festival will have plenty to offer for this year’s theme — “Music, Poetry and Life.” Returning will be Deirdre McCarthy's “Imaginary Trip to Ireland,” the “Wonderful Dogs of Ireland,” workshops by the Irish American Cultural Institute of Central New York, wooden fretwork demonstrations by Dan Cook and the photo contest. Dance schools from throughout the region will provide guests with performances of step and social dancing as well as chances to participate in workshops and presentations. New this year will be a presentation of Irish Zumba dancing, a quilt raffle and accompanying workshops and a workshop by Herkimer County Community College instructor Matt Powers on the poetry of the Elders.
The Ranger Run 5K will be take place on July 28 at 10 a.m. at the fairgrounds. Registration can be done online or in person at the festival on July 27 from 6 to 8 p.m. and July 28 from 8 to 9:30 a.m. Registration is $20 in advance and $30 the day of the race. Awards will be given to the top male and female in different age categories. Those who participate will receive admittance into the festival.
Children younger than 13 years of age will be admitted free, as will active military members. To purchase tickets online, or to view the complete listing of scheduled events, visit www.gaif.us.