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Experience Luck of the Irish

Yes, the Irish have a reputation for enjoying their whiskey and raucous celebrations.

But the Southern Nevada Sons of Erin want you to know, there’s much more to the Irish than that. Members of the nonprofit group hope to introduce locals to the finer points of Irish culture during their 45th annual St. Patrick’s Day festival and parade. The event, hosted by the city of Henderson, kicks off today at Henderson Events Plaza, 200 S. Water St., in the Water Street District, and runs through Sunday.

“This year in particular we’re striving to share our culture with the public,” says Dona Brown, spokeswoman for the Sons of Erin. Yes, she’s a woman; they started letting them in the organization four years ago. They just haven’t gotten around to changing the name to “Sons and Daughters of Erin,” she explains.

As for the event, the Irish traditions in music, dancing and cuisine will be showcased throughout the four-day event. A portion of the proceeds raised will benefit St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a childhood cancer research organization.

The festival will feature food, demonstrations, games, carnival rides, activities for children, an Irish stew cook-off and some interesting tasting contests. Live entertainment, Irish and American, will take place throughout the event on two stages. Among the activities will be Irish jig lessons and a Crazy Knees competition.

Organizers wanted this year’s festival to focus more on children and getting them involved, Brown says. There will be several hands-on activities, including a shillelagh toss, a petting zoo and lessons on Irish musical instruments.

The parade, featuring dance groups, a marching band, floats and other units, starts at 10 a.m. Saturday and will travel through the Water Street District.

But the event won’t completely ignore the Irish appreciation of whiskey. There will be daily tasting contests in which participants pay $5 to taste five kinds of whiskey. If they identify all five brands, they win a prize of a fifth of Irish whiskey, Brown notes.

Admission to the festival is free; prices vary for carnival ride tickets and game tickets, which are sold separately.

The carnival and festival will be open from 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday. On Sunday, the carnival is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., while the festival opens at noon and ends at 7 p.m.

For more information, visit the Southern Nevada Sons of Erin website at www.snsoe.com; HendersonLive.com or call 267-2171.

Contact reporter Sonya Padgett at spadgett@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4564.

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