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Irish fest funds cancer research

Published: Thursday, March 6, 2014 7:31 a.m. CDT
(Photo provided)
Two volunteers dressed in St. Patrick's Day attire to fundraise last year. Bryan McGonigal estimates that about 5,000 people visit McGonigal's Pub over the course of St. Patrick's Day weekend. McGonigal hosts a Celtic Fest with Relay For Life of Barrington to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

BARRINGTON – The Fourth Annual Barrington Celtic Fest is more than just a party, it’s a chance to support finding a cure for cancer.

This year’s Celtic Fest will be March 14 through March 17 in and around McGonigal’s Pub, 105 S. Cook St., in downtown Barrington. The tent will be set up on Park Avenue.

While the first official Celtic Fest was in 2011, the Irish festival originally began in 2010 at McGonigal’s Pub, which opened just eight days before St. Patrick’s Day that year.

Each year the festival has grown bigger and better, said Bryan McGonigal, owner of McGonigal’s.

Since 2012, Celtic Fest has served as a fundraiser for Relay for Life, which supports the American Cancer Society.

This March will mark eight years since McGonigal’s mother, Mary McGonigal, died from ovarian cancer at 62 years old.

“The efforts of places like American Cancer Society and helping to find a cure is very dear to my heart,” McGonigal said.

The pub’s second floor beer tap area displays Mary McGonigal’s maiden name.Sixteen Candles will headline the tent on March 14 with American English headlining on March 15.

On nights the bands play, there will be a $10 cover charge to enter the tent. Proceeds will go towards helping McGonigal’s Pub reach its goal of making a $5,000 donation, which when matched by Relay for Life’s donors will become a $10,000 donation.

Relay for Life will also have volunteers on hand to accept donations.
Barrington resident Eleanor Sweet, event chair of Relay for Life of Barrington, said events like this are important to Relay for Life and its mission of finding a cure for cancer.

“I’ve never been involved with an organization that has such a far reach as Relay for Life and American Cancer Society,” Sweet said, adding that she lost her father to Leukemia in March 2004. “Everyone has been touched by cancer.”

This year’s Relay for Life of Barrington will begin at 6 p.m. on June 6 at the Barrington High School football stadium.
McGonigal encourages everyone to come out and enjoy Celtic Fest. He added that Sunday will be more of a family day, with performances from local dance groups and kid-friendly diversions.

“It’s a big, fun party,” McGonigal said of the festival. “We’ve had a horrible winter and people are itching to get out.”

McGonigal added that this year’s tent is even bigger than last year and is fully heated. He expects about 5,000 people to come through over the course of the weekend.

“We’re making the town Irish for the weekend,” he said. “Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.”

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