As St. Patrick's Day is used as an excuse by many to get blind drunk, it's no wonder those of Irish descent often harbor mixed feelings about the holiday. Though such revelers seem oblivious to the fact, there's more to Irish culture than dressing in green and downing shots of Jameson. Those seeking a better understanding of the Emerald Isle would be better served by a visit to the Irish Fair of Minnesota. Held on Harriet Island, the weekend-long festival offers a market specializing in an array of Irish goods, a rich variety of open workshops, traditional group dances, and exhibitions of hurling and Gaelic football. Speaking of sports, even armchair athletes can join the Couch Potato Zero-K, a footrace spanning a whopping three feet. The entire celebration is scored to a diverse lineup of musicians performing from three stages, demonstrating that Irish music can be represented by traditional folk tunes (Gaelic Storm), Celtic punk (the Tossers), evocative vocalists (Katie McMahon), or even a Van Morrison tribute band with local connections (the Belfast Cowboys). Kicking off with a Thursday-night concert by pop rockers the Screaming Orphans, the Irish Fair of Minnesota is one cultural celebration that manages to pay tribute to the past while living solidly in the present. With copious selections of food and drink available, visitors are likely to find that the being "Irish for a Day" entails far more than the March 17 stereotypes. For more info, visit irishfair.com.
Fri., Aug. 9, 3-11 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 10, 9 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 11, 9 a.m.-7 p.m., 2013