With less than a week until the 4th annual Celtic Canter 5K, the 2014 event is shaping up to be the largest field yet.

As of Monday, nearly 600 runners had registered for the event this Saturday, March 15, according to Abby Gruber, city recreation and parks director.

Last year, 399 runners finished the race, and if the weather is nice, race officials are expecting a significant number of race day registrations pushing the total number of runners to nearly 700, Gruber said.

This is the first year that Westminster has partnered with local dentist Partick Gallagher and O'Lordons Irish Pub to turn the annual race into a Downtown Irish Festival.

The festival begins with bagpipes at the starting line of the 5K race course at Belle Grove Square Park. The race begins at 9 am, traveling throughout downtown before looping back to end at the park.

The festival also features a free, one mile "Leprechaun Chase" kids' fun run at 10 am in Belle Grove Square, as well as Irish-themed crafts and activities at the library. Activities include face painting, Caber toss, balloon art and more. Children can also fill their "pots o' gold" by visiting participating downtown businesses.

About 30 children have signed up for the children's run, according to Gruber.

Gruber said there has been a "wonderful response" from the business community for the event with about 20 businesses participating.

Post-race activities include live music, awards and door prizes at O'Lordans Irish Pub, which is offering one free beer or soda for all runners. Runners can register online until Thursday at runningmaryland.com. The race costs $30 if registered online and $35 to register on race day.

All event proceeds will benefit Carroll County Children's Fund, Access Carroll and Target Community and Educational Services, Inc.