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La Crosse’s Irishfest ready for 18th year

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If it’s August in La Crosse, it’s time for Irishfest.

The 18th annual festival celebrating Irish heritage begins Aug. 11 at the southside festgrounds, and runs three days, featuring Irish music, crafts and food.

Vice President Kathleen Ryan said much of the festival celebrates Irish culture and history.

“This year, you can learn a little about Irish history” through lectures, she said. One highlight of the history programs will be marking the 25th anniversary of the peace accord between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Irishfest president Pat Stephens and mascot Clancy promote Irishfest along the riverfront on Thursday

Irishfest cultural chair Tracy Mullaney says magical beings in Irish folklore will be one subject of the educational activities, which she added are “always awesome.”

“This year we are diving into Irish fairies,” Mullaney said at a Riverside Park news conference Thursday. “These are not Disney fairies, these are not whimsical Tinker Bells. They are banshees,” which traditionally wail before someone dies.

Back for the second year will be tug-of-war contests, featuring competitors from Ireland as well as the La Crosse area.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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