Gaelic Park Irish Festival

The Gothard Sisters, pictured in 2013, are among 40 acts performing at Chicago Gaelic Park’s 28th Irish Festival on Memorial Day weekend in Oak Forest. (Gaelic Park, Handout / May 20, 2014)

All things Irish will be celebrated Friday through Monday at Chicago Gaelic Park's 28th Irish Festival in Oak Forest.

More than 40 artists from the states and Ireland will provide continuous music on four stages. Two more stages cater to kids and performing arts.

"It's not just music and a carnival," Gaelic Park President John Devitt said. "Every aspect of Irish culture gets play. There are Irish-bred dogs and ponies, competitions like Bonnie Baby, a dedicated tea room, Irish football and hurling."

The largest Irish festival in Illinois drew 30,000 visitors in 2013, he said.

All entertainment, unlimited rides and parking are included in the admission price of $15 or $12 for seniors and kids 4-12. Admission is reduced to $7 and $6 the first hour Friday and to $10 the first hour Saturday to Monday. A four-day festival pass costs $28 and is available through Thursday only.

"It's free carnival rides once you enter, so that's a big draw," Devitt said.

The Leprechaun Stage will host magicians, jugglers, puppets, clowns and contests for Bonnie Baby, red hair and freckle face. A petting zoo with pony rides is located near the entrance.

Acts new to Irish Fest include Nathan Carter, the No. 1 country-western singer in Ireland in his first appearance in the United States; and the Tartan Terrors, "a mix of Scottish and Irish classic rock, very upbeat and lively," Devitt said. "We're very excited to have them here for the first time."

Open the Door for Three, also new to the fest, are a trio known for collaborations with Riverdance, Bonnie Raitt and Josh Groban.

The Gothard Sisters, classically trained violinists who made their first appearance at Irish Fest in 2013, will return for performances Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Black 47, Irish rockers from New York City who've been a staple at the fest for years, will perform Sunday and Monday as part of their farewell tour.

Fest staples include Shannon Rovers Pipe Band, the Makem & Spain Brothers and Larkin & Moran Brothers, Pipes & Drums of the Emerald Society and 3 Men in Kilts.

Other acts include the Elders, a Celtic-American rock band; renowned Irish tenor Ronan Tynan; Celtic rockers the Fighting Jamesons; Screaming Orphans, four sisters from County Donegal; and accordionist Fintan Stanley.

Eight hundred dancers will compete in the annual Chicago Feis 9 a.m-3 p.m. Sunday and Monday.

Gaelic Athletic Association's football matches will be at 2 and 3 p.m. Sunday. Proceeds from the festival help to maintain the 55-acre complex where Gaelic football and hurling groups use the field free of charge.

New Irish Literary Theatre, Shapeshifters, Wild Flower, Battlefield Balladeers and others will stage theatrical productions all four days.

The family and music stages and seating areas are fully enclosed in tents. Entertainment also is provided in the air-conditioned hall.

Homemade Irish soda bread and scones and hot tea will be served in the Irish tea room, which includes tables and chairs and is located near the festival entrance.

For festgoers who become members of Gaelic Park, there's a raffle for two round-trip tickets to Ireland.

Gaelic Park is located at 6119 W. 147th St.

Festival hours are 4-11 p.m. Friday, 2-11 p.m. Saturday, 1-11 p.m. Sunday (Irish mass at 11:30 a.m.) and 1-8 p.m. Monday.

Call 708-687-9323 or see chicagogaelicparkirishfest.org.