LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Whether you've got some Irish in your background or not, anyone can enjoy the culture and spirit of being Irish for a day at the annual Irish Celtic Festival starting at 11 a.m. Saturday in Lakewood Ranch.
Back by popular demand and celebrating its fourth year, the pre-St. Patrick's Day event, designed for families and dog lovers alike, and hosted by Lakewood Ranch Community Activities, will be held in a new location this year moving from Central Park to Adventure Park in Greenbrook Village.
"Moving to Adventure Park will allow us a more centralized location, more room for events like Irish hurling and more parking, and it's one of the most family friendly parks in Lakewood Ranch," said festival Chairman Fran Shea,
The Irish Celtic Festival opens with the traditional Lucky Dog Parade to benefit the Humane Society of Lakewood Ranch, led by Grand Marshall Mike Greer from the New World Celts. Any canine and owner can enter the parade dressed in Irish attire, followed by a contest to win prizes in categories for the Cutest, the Most Irish-Decorated, and the favorite, Dog-Owner Look Alike.
Prizes will also be awarded later for Best Male Legs in a Kilt and Most Irish Looking festivalgoer.
This year, organizers say more Celtic traditions will be introduced, including a participative demonstration of Irish hurling and Gaelic football by the Manatee & Orlando Gaelic Sports Clubs followed by a 2 p.m. afternoon match.
The Celtic Misfits and the Blue-Eyed Bettys will provide musical entertainment, along with the Braden River Pipers, which will lead the Lucky Dog Parade.
There will be plenty of activities to keep children entertained ranging from potato head decorating and face painting to a pot o' gold scavenger hunt and pony rides.
Traditional Irish food and beverages, including coffee, cider and craft beer from Ireland and Scotland will be sold by vendors and local Irish clubs.
About 5,000 visitors attended the Irish Celtic Festival last year, and the warm early spring weather is expected to bring them back to Lakewood Ranch again, organizer say.
The festival will end at 4 p.m. Free parking is available near the park, along with golf cart service. Adventure Park is at 13400 Adventure Place in Lakewood Ranch off Greenbrook Village and State Road 70, just west of Nolan Middle School.
Information: lwrcac.com/events/irishcelticfestival. Kathryn Moschella, Lakewood Ranch reporter can be reached at 941-745-7010. Follow her on Twitternote>