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Cultural fair honors Irish heritage

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Swordsman Sir Jason Houlihan engages in battle on his horse, Shadow, at the Fairplex’s Celtic Faire Saturday. Imperial Knights is a live medieval stunt show that travels internationally. Houlihan has been a part of the Imperial Knights for seven years. The group also teaches the importance of chivalry and the dangers of drugs at schools and Renaissance fairs. / photo by Celine Dehban

Swordsman Sir Jason Houlihan engages in battle on his horse, Shadow, at the Fairplex’s Celtic Faire Saturday. Imperial Knights is a live medieval stunt show that travels internationally. Houlihan has been a part of the Imperial Knights for seven years. The group also teaches the importance of chivalry and the dangers of drugs at schools and Renaissance fairs. / photo by Celine Dehban

Brooke Grasso
Staff Writer

The Fairplex showcased Irish music, cultural activities and food last weekend while thousands of people celebrated Irish culture Saturday and Sunday at the Celtic Faire.

The venue was decorated with Irish flags and a large medieval castle in the center of the venue.

Some event attendees even brought their Irish pride with them and dressed in green and wore shamrock necklaces while the men wore kilts.

“(The fair) was a great time for kids and adults,” Stephen Gold said.

Gold attended the event with his Irish friend.

“It was cute, fun and entertaining,” he said.

A booth called The Fancy Leprechaun was run by the Fairplex.

It sold St. Patrick’s Day souvenirs and decorations to those who did not arrive already dressed up.

Katie Butler attended the event with her mother and daughter; the three arrived in all green, showing their spirit and pride.

“I had a blast,” Butler said. “I dressed my mom and daughter up and I even decorated my car.”

The Dublin stage, an indoor area that holds more than 400 people at once, showcased live music from bands playing a mixture of American bluegrass and traditional Irish music.

“The band Whiskey Sunday literally rocked,” Gold said.

The indoor area also held a genealogy center that allowed people to search for their last name and see where their name originated.

This made the event more than just entertaining, but a learning experience too.

Viewers were also able to witness a jousting exhibit.

Performers wore body armor and rode on horses while they tried to knock each other off with their jousting lances.

Along with the scheduled performances, there were also other entertainers.

Stilt walkers and bagpipe players roamed the venue, keeping those waiting in long food lines entertained.

With many options for traditional Irish food, many still veered toward the usual fair food such as cotton candy and popcorn.

Those who were true to their heritage ate at Ye’ Old Dublin Grill, an Irish eatery that serves classic Irish food such as Shepherd’s pie and corned beef and cabbage.

One of the main attractions at the event for both children and their parents were the different animals.

Geese, deer, hedgehogs, tortoises and an owl attracted a large audience.

“I walked around with Gismo the barn owl,” said Megan Miller, a Pacific Animal Productions worker.

“It was very well received.”

Pacific Animal Productions also brings animals to the Los Angeles County Fair and described the Celtic Faire as more personal due to the size difference.

“I was able to have conversations and learn people’s names,” Miller said.

The entrance fee was $10 for adults and $10 for parking.

“There was enough to do that made the price worth it, but parking was a bit steep,” Butler said.

The price did not seem to have any effect on the attendance of the event.

In previous years the event was called the Irish Festival.

Richard Espinoza, a guard at the Fairplex gates, noticed a dramatic increase in attendance compared to last year’s celebration.

“There are a lot more shows and entertainment for kids,” he said.

Children were able to take part in simulated sword fighting inside the medieval castle and played games such as the shamrock toss.

The event set the stage for spring and St. Patrick’s Day on March 17.

“The fair represented the Irish well,” Butler said.

Brooke Grasso may be reached at brooke.grasso@laverne.edu.

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