Manhattan's Irish Fest will take place March 1-2. | File photo
Updated: April 2, 2013 6:05AM
It’s almost time for what some consider the area’s largest festival dedicated to celebrating all things Irish.
The 19th annual Manhattan Irish Fest will kick off at 5:30 p.m. March 1 and continue through March 2 in downtown Manhattan.
The event will be presented by the Irish American Society of County Will, and Danny Doyle from Manhattan will serve as the fest’s chairman this year.
The Manhattan Park District Recreation Center will open at 6 p.m. March 1 with a teen dance, a disc jockey, ping-pong, an interactive Neo game, beanbags and a free photo booth.
The entertainment tents will open at 5:30 p.m. March 1 with Boston-area singer Colm O’Brien and bagpipers to introduce grand marshal Barbara Jean Daugherty.
The Milwaukee-based band Reilly will headline the entertainment tent from 8:30-10:30 p.m. March 1.
The band plays a mix of Irish and rock music and performed at the Manhattan Irish Fest the last two years as well as at the Will County Celtic Festival in September.
“We get to that area pretty frequently now,” said Michael Tierney, who plays guitar, bouzouki, whistles, mandolin and harmonica with Reilly.
“We get around to northern Illinois quite a bit, which is great.”
The band’s new album, “Revelry and Regret,” was recently released. The group will play a handful of songs from the new album as well as some older material.
“We’re not a stand-around, balladeer sort of band,” he said. “It’s meant to be more fun, jumping around and having a good time.”
Reilly’s show is contemporary — although he does bust out his kilt on special occasions — and might surprise people.
“When people hear ‘Irish band,’ they think we play out a couple times in March and then we don’t hear from them the other 11 1/2 months. That’s not the case,” Tierney said.
“We consider ourselves to have a lot of rock and American influences. We’re using Celtic influences within the music.
“We’ve done non-Celtic festivals using the same set list because there is a lot of crossover within the music styles.”
March 2 will kick off with an Irish Mass at 9 a.m. at St. Joseph Catholic Church. Dancers and pipers will perform at the Mass.
The Irish Fest Culture and Craft show will be from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. March 2 at Anna McDonald School with Trinity Knot Gifts and the Will Grundy Counties Genealogical Society at 10 a.m.
Pianist Deborrah Wyndham will perform “Melodies of Ireland” at 1 p.m. March 2.
The parade will step off at 11 a.m. March 2.
“It should be a pretty decent-sized parade,” Doyle said.
Youth and family activities at the Recreation Center include carnival games, ping-pong, beanbags, a DJ, the Neo game, arts and crafts, a magician and balloons, face painting and a screening of the movie “Brave.”
The entertainment tent will have music going all afternoon March 2, beginning with the Bagpipes & Drums of the Emerald Society from Chicago and the Tunes of Glory Pipes & Drums from Warrenville, Ill.
Other acts on March 2 include Three Men in Kilts, John Condron, Finbar MacCarthy and the Fisticuffs.
The Manhattan Township Historical Society will have the caboose open for visitors to explore the village’s heritage and history on March 2.
Admission will be $7 in advance and $10 at the gate. Ages 7 and younger will be admitted for no charge.
Most of the proceeds will go toward scholarships and local organizations.
The admission buttons are made by HarrysButtons.com at Easter Seals — Tinley Park.
Annie Alleman is a freelance writer.