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Irish Festival lacks luck in turnout

Lauren Miller, 15, of Rancho Cucamonga poses with Scottish knight Gallahad and Scottish princess Merideth at IrishFest 2014, Sunday at the Fairplex in Pomona. The three-day festival ran from March 7 through Sunday and featured live bands, carnival rides, food, beer, and vendors selling Irish goods. Among the entertainers was the band Joshua Tree, a U2 cover band.  / photo by Daniel Hargis

Lauren Miller, 15, of Rancho Cucamonga poses with Scottish knight Gallahad and Scottish princess Merideth at IrishFest 2014, Sunday at the Fairplex in Pomona. The three-day festival ran from March 7 through Sunday and featured live bands, carnival rides, food, beer, and vendors selling Irish goods. Among the entertainers was the band Joshua Tree, a U2 cover band. / photo by Daniel Hargis

Liz Ortiz
Staff Writer

The luck of the Irish was not present at the Fairplex’s annual IrishFest as attendance was low, but that did not stop festival attendees from having a fun time last weekend.

The festival had a little over 4,000 people in attendance, a significant drop from last year, according to Irish performer Merida Dunbruchcastle. But the small turnout did not stop those attending from having a great time.

“The beer and the music are the best part,” said Glendora resident Jasmine Solares. “The kids are also having a blast at the carnival.”

A forest filled with towering trees and a pond greeted attendees, which was home to the children’s carnival section.

The carnival included rides, game booths and a medieval craft fair. Behind the carnival were two performance stages.

“The Dublin” was the main stage area and the busiest center at the fair. The outside resembled an airport hangar, but inside, a bagpipe rock band was playing on the stage as people browsed the merchandise, purchasing food and of course, beer.

It could be assumed that a festival notoriously known for beer would attract a rowdy crowd of drunks, but the Fairplex festival was a family event.

“We’ve been doing crafts with the children all day,” Dunbruchcastle said. “It’s been beauteous. It’s been a perfect family fair.”

“It’s scaled down this year,” a bartender at the festival Jeremy Sackett said. “The crowd’s a little smaller, but there’s lots of families having a good time.”

The side stage, which was located in the back of the festival, featured Joshua Tree, a U2 tribute band. Some of the attendees sat and listened while others walked around, beer mugs in hand, scanning the various merchandise booths.

The booths were adorned with clovers or Irish flags, and sold stereotypical Irish paraphernalia like Irish beer mugs, oversized green and white top hats with clovers, clover-shaped sunglasses and claddagh rings.

The turnout was so poor that carnival worker Jo Barnes said the event will not host the kids carnival next year.

Instead, festival organizers want to target an adult demographic.

Another speculation for the lack of people is that the festival was merely a stereotypical St. Patrick’s Day celebration and did not embrace Irish traditions aside from drinking.

Regardless, those who attended had fun, and were able to quench their thirst.

“If you’re looking for a good time, this is the place to be,” Barnes said.

In previous years, the festival was a huge event with 9 stages for entertainment that featured Celtic dancers, circus elephants, traditional bagpipe players and actors wearing traditional Irish clothing.

However, the festival traditionally held at the Fairplex has been postponed until Aug. 1, and will move to the Queen Mary Event Park in Long Beach, according to the event’s website.

Liz Ortiz can be reached at elizabeth.ortiz@laverne.edu.

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