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Cape Coral Irish Festival this weekend

By Staff | Mar 3, 2012

You can enjoy all the traditional Irish food, music and more – and even possibly win a trip to Ireland – at the eighth annual Cape Coral Irish Festival to be held this weekend.

The event starts today beginning at 11 a.m. and running to 10 p.m., and continues Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., at the German American Social Club.

According to organizers, you can kick back, relax and enjoy a taste of Irish-American culture at this family friendly festival.

There will be continuous live music, Irish vendors and fresh food including the popular corned beef and cabbage, shepherd’s pie and other festival treats.

“Our main chef is the chef at the German American Club,” said Irish Club member and one of the organizers, Anne Carney. “The guy is very talented and does a phenomenal corned beef and cabbage.”

The chef for the German American Club is Guido Pollmann.

Carney knows her Irish food.

“I was born in Ireland,” she said. “I just celebrated an anniversary of my family coming here from County Mayo.”

She said a big part of the festival is the opportunity to see if you have the “luck of the Irish” and take a chance on a trip for two to Ireland with a stay at an authentic B&B and a rental car for a week plus airfare.

What will people enjoy most from that trip in her opinion?

“The history and the music,” she said.

The rental car is part of the prize is an added plus, as they are very expensive for American drivers, who usually prefer an automatic car, rather than the common Irish 5-speed shifts.

Music at the annual festival itself is a big draw. Among the entertainers will be the Screaming Orphans, natives of Bundoran, Co. Donegal.

“They are four young performers – actually four sisters – from County Donegal and now New York. What they perform is traditional Irish Music with a pop rock spin.”

Other performers will include singers Kathy and Andreas Durkin, natives of Co. Cavan; singer/songwriter Cahal Dunne, native of Co. Cork known as “Ireland’s Happy Man;” local favorites Harry Boyle and West of Galway Band; award-winning Kellyn Irish Dance Academy; Sarasota School of Irish Dance; Tir Na Nog Dancers; as well as Bit of Malarky Band and Brian Bonner.

Lee County Pipes and Drums also will perform, and they have a special tie to the Irish American Club.

“We’re a 100 percent volunteer organization, and we donate proceeds to local charities and to our scholarship fund,” said Carney. “The scholarship winner this year is a 16-year-old bagpiper with the Lee County Pipes and Drums who will also be performing. He’s a 10th grader at Fort Myers High School, Alex Danzi. He’s a very impressive young guy.”

A free adult-supervised Children’s Lane also will be available, with crafts and games for children ages 3 to 10 along with carnival rides.

“One activity will be making little leprechauns.”

“The Cape Coral Irish American Club is dedicated to enhancing the cultural diversity of our community by producing this Festival,” said Bud Martin, president of the club and festival chair, in a prepared statement. “And the festival is possible because of the community churches, businesses, social organizations, individuals and festival-goers who believe in our mission.

“I’d also like to thank our volunteers and the business community for supporting us with our program advertisements. Even through a tough economy, they have supported us for the last eight years. It is all of these supporters that have the community coming together to make it (The Festival) happen.”

Admission is adults $6, children 12 and under free and students $3 with a school ID.

The festival will be in the the Bavarian Gardens, home of the German American Social Club, at 2101 S.W. Pine Island Rd.

For more information, check the website at capecoralirishamericanclub.org.