PITTSBURGH - When you picture an Irish festival, you're picture green. You picture beer. You picture jigs and reels played with bodhrans, tin whistles and Uillean pipes.
And yes, you picture March 17, or at least a weekend before or after it. It seems all Irish festivals take place sometime around the feast of St. Patrick.
But not all.
The City of Pittsburgh has one of the best Irish festivals around and this one takes place in September. In fact, it starts today and runs through Sunday, inundating the Steel City with all things Eire.
The festival was created to contribute to the rich, cultural awareness of Irish history and tradition that exists in Pittsburgh, according to the events web site.
It is held at Riverplex between Sandcastle and the waterfront.
Now in its 22nd year, the Pittsburgh Irish Festival kicks off at 4 p.m. and runs through midnight tonight.
Saturday, the fun starts at 11 a.m. and ends at midnight. Sunday's events begin at 9 a.m. and end at 6 p.m.
While music and dance are the main attractions at the festival - and there are multitudes of acts to be seen - there's far more to do than simply sing and dance.
There's the food. From Irish stew and potato soup to colcannon and the famous potato pancake concoction simply known as boxty, Irish cuisine is on the menu in full supply.
Ireland is the native home to some of the most well loved dog breeds the world over. There will be a dog tent on hand, featuring some of the more popular Irish breeds: the Irish Setter, Irish Water Spaniel, Irish Terrier, Kerry Beagle, Glen of Imaal and others.
Americans love genealogy and the festival will afford its patrons the opportunity to do a little familial historical research at the genealogy pavilion.
Irish gifts will be for sale and artisans will be making their Irish artisans will be on hand making their crafts, giving demonstrations and allowing festival goers the opportunity to create a special item of their own.
Historians will also be available to discuss both historical and modern-day Irish culture and customs. A bit of hurling anyone?
And of course, there will be plenty of music to go around.
From Gaelic Storm and the Screaming Orphans to Evans and Doherty, Skerryvore and Mike Gallagher, a multitude of Irish musical performers in varying styles will fill the air with their sound.
Ranging from the traditional, pub-style sing-a-longs to more modern takes, there will be something for everyone.
Sunday will begin with a traditional mass celebrated in Gaeilge, the Irish language that, along with English, is the official language of the Emerald Isle.
Admission ranges anywhere from $12 for adults at the gate down to $8 for seniors 60 and older and $5 for active and retired military personnel, along with public safety officers, with identification. Children ages 12-and-younger are admitted for free.
And don't forget about the drinks either. There will be both a whiskey and beer tasting tents for those wanting to get a true taste of the "spirits" of the day.
Hughes may be reached online at firstname.lastname@example.org