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All business - pair of Irish dancers go to work at the Connecticut Irish festival Photo by: Google Images

Connecticut Irish festival celebrates 50-year anniversary

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All business - pair of Irish dancers go to work at the Connecticut Irish festival Photo by: Google Images

The Connecticut Irish Festival will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary on June 23 and 24 at the North Haven Fairgrounds, Route 5, 300 Washington Avenue. This event, sponsored by the Irish American Community Center, is the longest running Irish Festival in New England. Each year, thousands assemble to partake in a program featuring the finest in Irish music, dance, and sports while enjoying the camaraderie of those with similar interests.

Cultural offerings will include language and instrumental competitions, as well as genealogy, traditional music presentations, and carving demonstrations. The cultural building will also house area Irish organizations and feature an Irish bread-baking contest.

Children under 16 are free and many family-friendly activities will be featured on both days. Some of the family exhibits include Irish magic shows, free face painting, Irish story time, rides, youth football scrimmage, sheep shearing, and pony rides.

Meanwhile, adults can enjoy some of the best musical acts on the Celtic scene. Seven Nations will headline Saturday evening, while other acts, including Screaming Orphans, McLean Avenue Band, the Mickey Finns, Celtic Cross, Kitchen Party, Mean Carlene, and Tommy Goodwin and Sharon will appear throughout the event. For a full schedule of activities and times, visit the website at www.ctirishfestival.com.

Saturday morning will start with the 10th Annual 5K Road Race to benefit the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association. A .7 mile kids’ fun run at 10:30 am will be followed by the road race and 2 mile fitness walk at 11:00 am. Sign ups for all events begin at 9:00 a.m. The Race Director is Joe Riccio (203) 481-7453. For more information e-mail wssac-ct@juno.com or visit the festival website for online registration.

On Saturday evening, we will hold a Gaelic football exhibition game between two teams comprised of members of the New York Police Department (NYPD) and the Fire Department New York (FDNY). Prior to the game, there will be a "Battle of the Bravest" Tug-o-War tournament among area professional firefighters competing for the "Bill Miller Trophy" and benefiting the Leary Firefighter Foundation, started by television personality Denis Leary.

Sunday's highlight is the 48th annual New Haven Feis, an Irish dance competition, featuring hundreds of skillful competitors in traditional costumes. The day will start at 8:00 am with a Catholic Mass on the Fairgrounds. An Irish Tea Cottage will offer various delicacies and an assortment of food vendors and merchandise vendors will be available throughout the Festival. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, and ends on Sunday at 7:00 p.m.

Admission price is $12 per day per adult, while children under 16 are free. All active military personnel with ID card are free. Advance 2-day passes are available for $18; or $10 one day. For general information, contact Jim Martens at 203-467-3638; or email ctirishfestival@gmail.com.

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