By Stephen McKinley
No shortage of Irish spirit will be in evidence at the Belmont Race Track this weekend, with the Eight Annual Irish Festival.
This year, the festival organizers were delighted to have Pepsi as a sponsor come on board, and the three-day festival promises to be better than ever.
Starting on Friday, Aug. 16, the event will include the Eamonn Coghlan 5K classic track event on sunday, and a special Sunday morning Mass for peace and justice, in the open air, under the oaks of Belmont.
Organizer Steve Duggan, of Paddy Reilly’s Music Bar in Manhattan, expects the festival to be another success. Festival goers are reminded that while the weather is likely to be hot and sunny, there are plenty of indoor facilities in the event of rain.
This year, the guest of honor will be Tommy Smyth, the sports commentator whose work covering the World Cup for ESPN earned wide acclaim.
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Music and entertainment will be provided by the Saw Doctors, Eileen Ivers, Deirdre Reilly, the Highland Rovers, the McCabes, Black 47, Shilelagh Law, the Prodgals, Dropkick Murphys, Finbar Furey, and Sister Mary Beata, to name but a few.
Children’s amusements, a shopping village and Irish theater workshops give a broad selection of events to chose from.
Sunday will see an antique car rally organized by Tri-City Auto Repair, and on the same day there will be a set-dancing world-record attempt.
Among the Sunday highlights will be the Eamonn Coghlan 5K, which starts Sunday at 10 a.m. The race was won last year by Paul Mwangi in 14:53, followed by Kevin Krause (15:16) and Michael Nehr (15:31). Nehr recently outraced a field of 9,000 to win the 3.5-mile Corporate Challenge at Jones Beach in 17:49, a full minute ahead of the runnerup.
The festival has a web site at www.nyirishfestival.com, where further information, including times, admission fees and directions are available.
The festival will run from Friday Aug. 16, through Sunday, Aug. 18, at the Belmont Race Track, 2150 Hempstead Tnpk., Elmont, N.Y. the track is off exit 26 of the Cross Island Parkway. Admission is $20 on Friday and Saturday, and $15 on Sunday. Children under 12 are admitted free, and festival goers are asked not to bring coolers, beverages or food.