LAKEWOOD RANCH -- During his working years in the U.S. military, Bob Greene didn't think much about his Scots-English heritage.
"What we concentrated on then was the most recent threat," he said.
That was then.
Greene will be among those celebrating the fifth annual Irish Celtic Festival 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. Saturday at Adventure Park, 13400 Adventure Place.
He'll be decked out in kilt and tartan, serving coffee, and dispensing information about the New World Celts.
But you might have to look hard to find Greene, because Adventure Park will be reeling with activities, including the popular Lucky Dog Parade at 12:30 p.m.; the new Irish Spirits Relay Race at 1 p.m., which involves running, and drinking beer, but not necessarily at the same time; entertainers like Cahal Dunne, winner of the Irish National Song Contest; and the duo Ballads & Bodhrans playing Irish favorites.
Back this year will be a hurling demonstration, a sport that has its roots in 3,000 years of Irish history.
John Hanlon, chairman of the Tampa Bay Hurling Club, which draws most of its members from Lakewood Ranch, Bradenton and Sarasota, believes festivalgoers will find it to be a fast, entertaining sport, and some of them might even want to give it a try.
A stick called a hurley is used to strike a ball called a sliotar. Striking a sliotar
between the opponent's goal posts is worth three points.
Hurling bears some resemblance to field hockey, rugby and basketball.
"We are excited, we really have good acts and activities this year," said Frank Shea, who heads up the free festival. There is no charge for admission or parking.
In previewing activities, Shea starts with entertainer Cahal Dunne, who he says looks like a leprechaun with his red beard.
"He was a star out of County Cork, Ireland, in his younger days, and some call him the Irish Liberace," Shea said.
Four dance groups from the Bradenton-Sarasota area will perform, including Drake School of Dance, Irish Dance Academy of Sarasota, O'Reilly School of Dance, and Cawte Dance School.
There will be many activities for children, including a scavenger hunt, free pony rides, and a balloon twisting artist.
The Braden River Pipers will lead the Lucky Dog Parade with prizes being awarded for cutest, best Irish-decorated, and owner-dog lookalikes.
For the first time, organizers are providing a tent to offer relief from the Florida sun.
Traditional Irish and Celtic food will be for sale, along with desserts, beer, wine and Irish coffee.
Register for the Lucky Dog Parade at firstname.lastname@example.org
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter @jajones1.