Historic Smithville and Village Greene in Galloway Township bathes itself in the green, white and orange colors of the Irish flag this weekend when the annual Smithville Irish Festival comes to town Oct. 12 and 13.
A tribute to Irish culture through traditional Emerald Isle-inspired music, dance, food and drink is presented by the Ancient Order of Hibernians, All Irish Martyrs, Cape May County Division 2.
This will be the fifth year the group has staged the festival, and it keeps growing each year, Division President Patrick Jockel said.
New this year will be a bagpipe competition Saturday sanctioned by the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association. A step dance competition will be held both Saturday and Sunday.
Galloway Chief of Police Patrick Moran will receive this year's "Irishman of the Year" award during the festival's kickoff, which begins at 11 a.m. Saturday with a Parade of Colors featuring the Shamrock and Thistle Pipe Band, followed by an opening invocation from the Rev. Timothy McGuire.
Moran was chosen for his outstanding contributions to the community, Jockel said.
The Smithville Irish Festival features an Irish Market with more than 50 vendors displaying their Irish crafts and retail items. The market is offered at two locations throughout the grounds. About 20 nonprofit organizations will be represented.
One thing you won't find at the festival are big, green floppy hats or any hint of Irish stereotype merchandise.
"We will never jump the shark like that and lower our standards," Jockel said. "We insist our vendors offer only quality, culturally inspired merchandise, and that's what we stand behind."
The event will also be family-friendly, offering a "Wee Ones" area with pony rides, face painting, sand art and caricatures for children.
Entertainment on Saturday will be provided by Jamie and the Quietman, Celtic Connection, Greenspell and Blackwater.
Sunday's activities begin with the Irish Mass at 10:30 a.m. at the Main Stage area. A portion of the Mass will be said in Gaelic. Seating will be limited, so attendees are urged to arrive early if they want a chair. Entertainment for Sunday will be provided by the Broken Shillelaghs, Jamie and the Quietman, Amadaun and Clancy's Pistols.
The festival takes place rain or shine.
"If they can walk around in Ireland in the rain, then we can walk around the festival in the rain," Jockel quipped.
The AOH is the largest nonprofit Irish Catholic organization in the world, and as in the past, Division 2 AOH donates proceeds of the festival to charity, Jockel said.
Contact Lucia C. Drake:
If you go
What: Smithville Irish Festival
Where: Historic Smithville, Route 9 and Moss Mill Road, Galloway Township
When: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 12; noon to 5 p.m. Oct. 13
How much: Free admission