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34th Annual Sonora Celtic Faire This Weekend

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In 1986, Patrick Michael Karnahan had just returned from Ireland and wanted to display his collection of art work. Working with the local Arts Council, he hired musicians and provided both food and drink inside of the Creekside Building at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds. It was the first Sonora Celtic Faire.

Karnahan was Thursday’s KVML “Newsmaker of the Day”.

The following years, the Faire began to slowly but steadily grow with the number of attendees, musicians, vendors and events. Eventually the Faire moved to Calaveras County in 1998, then in 2008 moved back to Sonora where it has remained since.

Thirty years later the Faire now runs over the course of three days, kicking off with a student and education day on Friday, followed by the full Celtic Faire all day this Saturday and Sunday.

The Sonora Celtic Faire has grown so large that it takes up almost every acre of the Mother Lode Fairgrounds, including the grandstands. Other than the numerous costumes and period outfits and obvious the lack of rides, it almost feels like a full county fair.

Karnahan believes that his was the first Celtic Faire in the United States. It is a trend that has caught on in other parts of the USA. The Sonora Celtic Faire has not only gained national attention, with National Geographic filming it a few years ago, but international attention as well. According to Karnahan, people come from overseas just to attend the annual event.

This year, the Sonora Celtic Faire will be celebrating 34 Years of cultures of Ireland, Scotland, Cornwall, and Wales. The Faire is held outdoors, indoors and under cover (including seats in the grandstands).

The Faire will also present three stages of Celtic Music.

This is a family event. For some adults, there will be an exclusive Whiskey Tasting Lounge.

Returning, the International Ultimate Jousting Championships with real live hard hitting competition. According to Karnahan, this is the real thing.

Another spectacular attraction is the Armor Combat Tournament, featuring many competitors. Again, this is no fake fighting. It is a time honored tradition of battle.

There will be a Celtic living history area featuring over 1,000 costume performers acting out 2,000 years of Celtic History.

One hundred plus Celtic vendors, craftsman, and artisans will be selling their wares. There will be plenty of food as well. Expect to see Irish dogs, Irish step Dancers and Scottish highland dancers, jugglers, magicians, fire-eaters, and a fire breathing dragon.

Karnahan is proud of the economic boon this brings to the Mother Lode each March. He says that area hotels, motels and restaurants will be full beginning as soon as tomorrow.

For tickets and complete schedule information, log on to

As far as parking, free shuttle rides will be offered, courtesy of Black Oak Casino, from the Walmart Parking Lot and the Junction Shopping Center parking lot, Sonora High School’s main parking lot and the old hospital parking lot on Forrest Road.

The “Newsmaker of the Day” is heard every weekday morning at 6:45, 7:45 and 8:45 AM on AM 1450 KVML.