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Cape Irish Festival this weekend at Sun Splash

By Staff | Mar 4, 2016

The 12th Annual Irish Festival in Cape Coral will feature some of the best celtic music around.

Hosted by the Cape Coral Irish American Club, the event will take place Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Sun Splash Family Waterpark. The festival will feature live performances by several groups, vendors selling crafts and wares, and authentic Irish food and drink.

Admission to the festival is $7 for adults; children age 12 and under are free.

“We usually draw about 10,000,” Anne Carney, of the Cape Coral Irish American Club, said.

Last year was the first year that the event was held at Sun Splash.

“It was wonderful,” she said, noting that it rained one day.

“It’s not supposed to rain this year, so we’re looking for a really good turnout,” Carney said.

On Saturday, the live entertainment will kick off with Brendan Nolan, from the Tampa Bay area, and Celtic Stew. Also scheduled to perform are the Lee County Pipes & Drums and Irish step dancers.

The other headlining acts include: West of Galway, of Southwest Florida; Rathskeltair, out of Jacksonville; Albannach, a Scottish rock band; and The Fighting Jamesons, from Virginia.

“You get the blend of that traditional sound and modern rock sound,” she said.

Open to the public, a Roman Catholic Mass will kick of Sunday from 11 a.m. to noon.

“This year, because of all the interest, we have a complete tent for the folk dancing,” Carney said.

Open both days from 1 to 5 p.m., the Ceili Tent will offer attendees a chance to learn various types of Irish dances. Volunteers from the local step dance schools will be on hand to teach those interested.

Designed for children ages 3-12, Leprechaun Lane will feature face painting, crafts and more.

“It used to be just a small area that we had for the kids,” she said.

“Now we have games and lots of crafts for the kids, given their different ages,” Carney said.

Leprechaun Lane is free of charge.

“We’ve tried to make it affordable for families,” she said.

There will be more than 50 vendors on site, with many offering Irish-related goods and souvenirs.

“Then there’s a mix of other vendors,” Carney said.

Attendees can enjoy Irish favorites, like corned beef and cabbage and shepherd’s pie, along with imported Irish beer and Guinness. She noted that there will also be traditional festival fare available.

Over the weekend, the Cape Coral Irish American Club will sell raffle tickets for a weeklong trip for two to Ireland. Valued at $2,500, it includes airfare, a rental car and a stay at a bed-and-breakfast.

Tickets cost $5 each, and the drawing will be held at 8 p.m. Sunday.

The winner does not have to be present to win.

The festival serves as a fundraiser for the club, which offers scholarships to students who expand on their Irish culture. The club also donates to local charities, such as the Cape Coral Caring Center.

“We had five winners this year,” she said of the scholarships.

Attendees are welcome to bring chairs and blankets; coolers and pets are not permitted.

“It’s just a nice family atmosphere,” Carney said. “A feel good kind of thing.”

For more information, visit: capecoralirishfest.com.

Sun Splash Family Waterpark is at 400 Santa Barbara Blvd.