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A proud culture takes center stage at Janesville Irish Fest

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Ann Fiore
September 25, 2013

JANESVILLE—The Rock River likely won't turn Irish green like the Chicago River does on St. Patrick's Day.

But between Thursday, Oct. 3, and Sunday, Oct. 6, Janesville will resemble the Emerald Isle a lot more than it usually does.

The first-ever Janesville Irish Fest will kick off next Thursday with a host of music, food, entertainment and cultural activities that honor the city's Irish heritage. It's a worthy cause: Some 13.03 percent of Janesville residents are Irish, the largest percentage among major Wisconsin cities, according to the website zipatlas.com.

The idea for the festival germinated last fall, when the Janesville Performing Arts Center booked the popular Irish band Gaelic Storm for a concert. A committee formed; a grant was obtained; restaurants, nonprofits, businesses and others signed on.

For local residents, that means four days of fun, dancing, corned beef and wearing “Kiss Me, I'm Irish” buttons.

More information and an up-to-the-minute festival schedule are available at janesvilleirishfest.com. Here are just a few highlights:

Film

—Irish BIFF Stew & Film, 5-10 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 5, Rock County Historical Society, 440 N. Jackson St. The Beloit International Film Festival folks will show an Irish film on their outdoor screen. Irish music and food precede the screening.

—“Irish in Janesville” documentary and release party, 5-8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4, Pontiac Convention Center, 2809 Pontiac Drive. Learn about the Irish families who helped build the city. U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan and state Sen. Tim Cullen will be among the speakers.

Music

—Gaelic Storm, 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 5-6, Janesville Performing Arts Center, 408 S. Main St. The popular Irish band is a favorite with fans across the country and always big hit at Milwaukee's Irish Fest.

—Shamrock Around the Block, 1-6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6, downtown Janesville. This event is a smaller version of the city's annual Rock Around the Block, which didn't happen this year. Area Irish band The Kissers play from 1-3 p.m., and The Gleasons take the stage from 4-6 p.m.

Family activities

—Irish cutout photo contest, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4, The Speakeasy, 19 N. High St. People can have their photos taken in three Irish-themed cutouts and be eligible for prizes or Speakeasy specials.

—Leprechaun Dash, 8:30 a.m.-noon Saturday, Oct. 5, Rotary Botanical Gardens, 1455 Palmer Drive. Families can choose the 10K or 5K runs or 1-mile walk. Their sweat helps raise money for the Alzheimer's Support Center.

A post-run party will kick off at 11 a.m. at HHFFRRRGGH Inn, 731 S. Wuthering Hills Drive.

—Pancake and Irish dancers breakfast, 8 a.m.-noon Sunday, Oct. 6, Rotary Botanical Gardens. This breakfast fundraiser features Irish dancers from Milwaukee and children's activities.

—Mercy O'Asis Family Fun Festival, noon-4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6, Lower Courthouse Park, 51 S. Main St. Singers, dancers, activities and food are designed with young leprechauns in mind.

JANESVILLE IRISH FEST SCHEDULE

THURSDAY, OCT. 3

Music

6 p.m.: Reilly, Rudi Kutter Memorial Pavilion.

8 p.m.: Ian Gould, O'Riley & Conway's Irish Pub.

Food

11 a.m.-9 p.m.: Irish feast, The Speakeasy.

11 a.m.-10 p.m.: Corned beef and Swiss sandwich special, HHFFRRRGGH Inn.

Entertainment

4-11 p.m.: Irish trivia, Milwaukee Grill.

5-9 p.m.: Irish bike night sponsored by Kutter Harley-Davidson and Quaker Steak & Lube, Rudi Kutter Memorial Pavilion.

5-10 p.m.: Irish BIFF Stew & Film, Rock County Historical Society.

7 p.m.: Irish whiskey tasting, O'Riley & Conway's Irish Pub.

7:30-10:30 p.m.: Irish comedy night, The Armory.

Cultural

6:30-7:30 p.m.: “Finding Your Roots: From Ireland to Janesville,” Hedberg Public Library.

FRIDAY, OCT. 4

Music

9:30-11:30 a.m.: Irish ballroom dance party, Janesville Senior Center.

7-10 p.m.: Evan and Tom Leahy Band, BMO Harris Bank.

Food

11 a.m.-9 p.m.: Irish feast, The Speakeasy.

11 a.m.-10 p.m.: Corned beef and Swiss sandwich special, HHFFRRRGGH Inn.

4-8 p.m.: Classic Irish fish and chips, O'Riley & Conway's Irish Pub.

6-7 p.m.: Traditional Irish buffet, Pontiac Convention Center.

Entertainment

11 a.m.-9 p.m.: Irish cut-out photo contest, The Speakeasy.

7-10 p.m.: Forward Janesville's Irish Piper's Ball, BMO Harris Bank.

Cultural

5-8 p.m.: “Irish in Janesville” documentary release party, Pontiac Convention Center.

Sports

7 p.m.: Luck o' the Draw Irish Dart Tournament, Riley's Sports Bar and Grill.

SATURDAY, OCT. 5

Music

6-9 p.m.: Bathtub Mothers, The Looking Glass.

7 p.m.: Gaelic Fury, HHFFRRRGGH Inn.

7:30 p.m.: Gaelic Storm, Janesville Performing Arts Center.

8 p.m.: The Tooles, O'Riley & Conway's Irish Pub.

8 p.m.: DJ Lucky Charm, Riley's Sports Bar and Grill.

Food

7 a.m.-noon: Wisconsin-style Irish breakfast, Milwaukee Grill.

8 a.m.-noon: Traditional Irish breakfast, HHFFRRRGGH Inn, and Irish-inspired breakfast, The Looking Glass.

8 a.m.-1 p.m.: Celebration of Irish food, Janesville Farmers Market.

11 a.m.-9 p.m.: Irish feast, The Speakeasy.

11 a.m.-10 p.m.: Corned beef and Swiss sandwich special, HHFFRRRGGH Inn.

Entertainment

10 a.m.-4 p.m.: United Arts Alliance Arts Fest, Olde Towne Mall.

11 a.m.-6 p.m.: Fix the Flats Irish Pub Crawl, downtown taverns.

11 a.m.: Leprechaun Dash post-party, HHFFRRRGGH Inn.

1-2:30 p.m.: American Irish Variety Show, Janesville Senior Center.

6-8 p.m.: Irish Beers & Bites beer tasting, HHFFRRRGGH Inn.

7-9 p.m.: Walk the Rainbow to the Pot of Gold (Irish costume party), The Speakeasy.

Cultural

4 p.m.: St. Patrick's Catholic Mass, St. Patrick's Church.

Sports

8:30 a.m.-noon: Leprechaun Dash for Alzheimer's Support Center, Rotary Botanical Gardens.

5-9:30 p.m.: Donnybrook: Live Pro Wrestling, sponsored by Janesville Wrestling Alliance, Pontiac Convention Center.

Family activities

9 a.m.-5 p.m.: Downtown sidewalk sale.

2-3 p.m.: Hedberg Public Library Dons the Green (crafts, music and storytelling), Hedberg Public Library.

5:30-9 p.m.: Irish Fest bingo, St. Patrick School.

SUNDAY, OCT. 6

Music

1-3 p.m.: Gaelic Fury, Lower Courthouse Park.

1-6 p.m.: Shamrock Around the Block (featuring The Kissers at 1 p.m. and The Gleasons at 4 p.m.), corner of Main and Milwaukee streets.

7:30 p.m.: Gaelic Storm, Janesville Performing Arts Center.

Food

7 a.m.-noon: Wisconsin-style Irish breakfast, Milwaukee Grill.

8 a.m.-noon: Irish Dancers & Pancake Breakfast fundraiser, Rotary Botanical Gardens.

8 a.m.-noon: Traditional Irish breakfast, HHFFRRRGGH Inn, and Irish-inspired breakfast, The Looking Glass.

11 a.m.-10 p.m.: Corned beef and Swiss sandwich special, HHFFRRRGGH Inn.

Cultural

7:30 and 10 a.m.: St. Patrick's Catholic Mass, St. Patrick's Church.

Family activities

8 a.m.-noon: Irish dance showcase and children's activities, Rotary Botanical Gardens.

Noon-4 p.m.: Mercy O'Asis Family Fun Festival, Lower Courthouse Park.



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