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Thirty Years Of Celtic Faire

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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 Wednesday’s KVML “Newsmaker of the Day”.

Over the 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 runs a three day course, kicking off with a student and education day on Friday, a musical Friday night kick-off, followed by the full Celtic Faire all day on 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, regardless of weather, the Sonora Celtic Faire will be celebrating 30 Years of cultures of Ireland, Scotland, Cornwall, and Wales. Karnahan assures the public that 80% of the Faire is held indoors or under cover (including seats in the grandstands).

This year the Faire will present four stages of Celtic Music featuring: Celtica, Tempest, Wicked Tinkers, Brick top Blaggers, Stand Easy, Black Irish Band, Cooking with Turf, Golden Bough, Pub Crawl and many more.

Other highlights include:

Jousting on horseback and a large armor foot combat tournament, featuring over 30 competitors.
Celtic living history area featuring over 800 costume performers acted out 2000 years of Celtic History!
100 + Celtic vendors, craftsman, and artisans showing they wares.
Scottish Highland Competition Games and Scottish Bagpipe Bands, Celtic Clans, Irish dogs and more….
Irish step Dancers and Scottish highland dancers.
Traditional foods, Whiskies, and Ale.
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.

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

  • Celtic Faire