PEORIA — The Peoria Irish Fest will commemorate a special anniversary this year amid the numerous other aspects of the annual Celtic celebration on the Peoria riverfront.
Twenty years ago, the city of Peoria established a sister city link with Clonmel, Ireland, and the Irish Fest will devote some attention to that anniversary during the festival's run next weekend from Aug. 24 to 26.
The festival will boast plenty of the Clonmel-based hard cider Magners, and those who attend will have the opportunity to meet Clonmel officials and residents. Festival organizers are also teasing a special surprise related to the sister city anniversary that will be announced at a later time.
A host of other Celtic-themed events, activities and libations will be available throughout the Peoria Irish Fest weekend, with the music taking center stage. Acts such as The High Kings, The Outside Track, Seven Nations and Daimh will serve as the high profile purveyors of Celtic music, while local favorites Roundstone Buskers, Turas and Bogside Zukes also will perform during the weekend. Another highlight will be Paddy Homan, a gifted Irish tenor who will be busy singing on several stages all three days of the festival. The full music schedule can be found at www.peoriairishfest.com/stage-schedule.
Over at the Cultural Village will be exhibits about various customs and features of Celtic life, including Celtic jewelry, Irish boxing, Irish wolfhounds and the Ancient Order of Hiberians exhibit. The Hive also will conduct Celtic art classes for two hours starting at noon on Aug. 26 and 27.
Brawny and courageous athletes can test their strength at the Highland Games on Saturday, which is an exhibition, and Sunday, a sanctioned competition. Those who participate in the Highland Games will toss the Braemer stone and the Caber log as well as the Sheaf toss, where a bundle of straw in a burlap wrap is tossed vertically from a pitchfork. The games will take place in the athletic fields on the riverfront. For those who simply want to partake in a little cardio, the Happy Hour 5K awaits at 6 p.m. Aug. 24 with participants receiving free admission, a souvenir pint glass and two beverage tickets.
Finally, plenty of Irish food and alcohol can be purchased at the festival's four different pubs across the event grounds. And if you feel the need for penance from your gluttony, the Catholic Diocese of Peoria will host a Sunday service at the festival at 10:30 a.m. with music preceding it 30 minutes earlier.
Thomas Bruch can be reached at 686-3262 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @ThomasBruch.