LAKEWOOD RANCH -- St. Patrick's Day was still five days away, but that didn't stop the festivities from getting underway Saturday.
Hundreds of people came to the 2016 Irish Celtic Festival at Adventure Park in Lakewood Ranch to celebrate Irish spirit, whether it ran through their blood or not.
For the Corscadden family, this year held special meaning.
"We recently found out that my husband's clan traced their roots back to Ireland," Carrie Corscadden said.
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They live so close in Lakewood Ranch they just walked over to the festival.
"We came out last year, and my daughter really wanted to enter the dog owner look-alike contest," Corscadden said. "They always enjoy coming out here to Adventure Park
for all the festivals."
This festival was one of her favorites, she said.
Nine-year-old Caymen Corscadden seemed to agree. The bagpipes, she said was one of the best parts "because of how they are shaped."
They were patiently and anxiously awaiting results of the dog owner look-alike contest, which were not available at press time.
"She's been planning this outfit for weeks," Corscadden said. "Probably going to duplicate it," she said for St. Patrick's Day next Thursday.
The festival was filled with contests, including the annual favorite Lucky Dog Parade and the new Irish Spirits Relay Race. Children also enjoyed the Pot of Gold scavenger hunt, face painting and pony rides.
The festival was also filled with entertainment from dancing to bagpipes. The Irish Dance Academy of Sarasota was one of four performing dance groups.
Fiona Coffey, 14, was among a group of girls who performed, and she said she loved every minute of it.
"It's just cool to see how we make music with out feet instead of the focus being the music or our outfits, which are all identical," Fiona said.
Her family is British, she said, so she often visits England and Scotland, and hopes to go to Ireland one day.
"It's just so different from anything I have ever seen," Fiona added.
She said she's been dancing with the group for about five months after rejoining it.
"I danced with them when I was little, and it was something that I really loved," Fiona said.
Bill Flynn was enjoying a green beer while at the festival with his wife, Nancy.
"So far, so good," he said.
While she didn't have any Irish blood flowing through her veins, he was proud to say he does.
"My family immigrated over," he said. "We have a daughter who will be 31 on St. Patrick's Day."
He went on to add, laughing: "When she turned 21, we were a little scared."
The couple made the drive from Venice to Lakewood Ranch when they heard about the festival.
"We saw the ad and we just thought it was a good way to spend an afternoon," he said.
Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.