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The largest free Irish fair in the country is in MN this weekend

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Shenanigans are afoot this weekend as thousands of Minnesotans – Irish or not – will flock to Harriet Island for the 37th annual Irish Fair of Minnesota.

With approximately 100,000 attendees each year, this event is the largest free celebration of its kind in the nation, event organizers say.

But this year people can expect a bit more than the usual smattering of bands, traditional dancers, pubs and trinket stores.

It's the 100th anniversary of the historical 1916 Easter Rising against British rule in Ireland, and in recognition of the revolt, the fair is hosting a variety of special spectacles.

Among them: speakers talking about the Easter Rising, musical performances related to the Easter Rising, as well as information about the Irish rebellion.

Throughout the weekend there will be various free concerts on the fair's three stages, two dance tents, a cultural area and a literary corner. (Click here for the musical lineup and here for all the different Irish food you can try.)

Many favorite fair traditions remain from previous years, such as the Zero K run where everybody ties for first. Unfortunately, sheep herding will not be offered this year due to medical complications with one of the herding dogs.

Planning to attend?

The free celebration officially begins at 3 p.m. on Friday and runs through the weekend. The hours are: Friday from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The kickoff ceremony is Thursday at 7 p.m., with tunes from Socks in the Frying Pan and The Sweet Colleens. Even though the fair is free, entrance to this specific party is $20 in advance and $25 at the door (admission includes all beverages throughout the evening).

For more information on parking and how to get to the fair, click here.

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