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Crowd goers praise Irish Fest

By Staff | Mar 6, 2011

The Cape Coral Irish American Club served up music, food and fun over the weekend during its seventh annual Irish Festival.
The two-day event, held Saturday and Sunday at the German American Social Club on Pine Island Road, began as a way to help promote and celebrate the Irish culture locally.
The festival consisted of a full schedule of Irish entertainment on both days, along with Irish food and drinks, and games and rides for the children. As in prior years, a Roman Catholic Mass was held Sunday morning for the attendees before the festival kicked off.
Robert and Maygriela Smith dropped by Sunday with their children, 4-year-old Tibulo and Lucero, who is 8 months old. The couple have attended the festival for the past four years as Robert’s grandfather moved to the United States from Ireland when he was 35.
Robert Smith said the event gives his family a chance to celebrate their heritage.
“And the music’s great,” he said.
Some of the entertainers included The Screaming Orphans, Celtic fiddler Emily Ann Thompson, Kathy and Andreas Durkin, the Lee County Pipes and Drums and West of Galway. Irish Cream, Tommy Barr, Harry Boyle and Brian Bonner were also on stage.
Asked what they enjoy about the festival, the couple cited the Irish beer and food.
“Beer and food,” Maygriela Smith said, adding that her husband is the Guinness fan, while she looks forward to the corned beef and cabbage dinner.
The festival also featured shepherd’s pie, potato pancakes, and sausage and peppers.
The couple said the Cape event is also more family friendly than other Irish festivals.
“I like this one cause my kids can come,” Robert Smith said. “It’s nice like that.”
The children’s area offered pony rides, face painting, games and some carnival rides.
“So they’re not bored,” Maygriela Smith said of their little ones.
Though a number was unavailable Sunday evening, festival organizers had set a goal of attracting 10,000 people over the weekend – an increase of 2,000 over last year’s figure.
Also present Sunday were sisters Cecelia DeForge and Sister Mary Colette Sweeney. Both first-timers to the festival, they offered a simple explanation for why they came.
“Because it’s a beautiful day, and we’re Irish,” DeForge said.
Having grown up in Ohio, the two said the event reminded them of the Irish festivals that they would attend with their family when they were young.
“It’s kind of part of the tradition,” DeForge said, adding that the event was wonderful.
“For an Irish festival, it’s very good,” Sweeney said.
Both praised the entertainment and appreciated the abundance of seating available.
“Nice accommodations with the picnic tables,” Sweeney said.
DeForge said it saved them from having to lug around heavy chairs.
“And everything smells good,” she added.
A portion of the proceeds raised during the festival will go toward various organizations that the Cape Coral Irish American Club supports, including the local chapter of the ALS Association, Organ Transplant Recipients of Southwest Florida and Army of Hope.
Founded in 2003, the Cape Coral Irish American Club was created to provide information about the Irish culture to the community through education of Irish history, art, dance, music, poetry, folklore and more. For more information about the club, visit: www.capecoralirishamericanclub.org.