Live music, amateur boxing and plenty of food are just some of the features of this year's 22nd annual Irish Fall Festival.
"Everybody's Irish this weekend," said local Ancient Order of Hibernians President Mike Maguire.
The order hosts the festival each year to promote all things Irish and as a fundraiser for the scholarships and other charities it supports.
An estimated crowd 180,000 to 200,000 people is expected to pass through the festival area during the course of the four-day event.
North Wildwood police Chief Matthew Gallagher said Wednesday that the crowd size demands a team effort from his department, public works and others in the city.
His department, for instance, requires that all of its Class II officers come back to work the festival weekend, and K-9 officers and other officers from the Cape May County Sheriff's Office also help staff the event.
"We start two weeks in advance," Gallagher said, noting a large binder full of directions and guidelines that is used for planning.
"We go for a full 72 hours nonstop," he said of the police coverage for the festival.
Gallagher said the festival is the largest single event the city hosts. July's New Jersey State Barbecue Championship and Anglesea Blues Festival comes in second.
Maguire said the festival has grown, adding new events such as amateur boxing about five years ago.
John Gallagher, a director of the Harrowgate Boxing Club of Philadelphia, said the boxing night features fighters from the U.S. and the Holy Family Boxing Club of Belfast, Northern Ireland.
The bouts are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. today.
"It's a great show. We have a little pizazz," John Gallagher said. The first year, about 400 or so people attended, and this year more than 700 are expected.
The festival starts today with a morning golf outing at the Wildwood Golf & Country Club and continues with a night of amateur boxing under a tent at Olde New Jersey and Spruce avenues.
Starting Friday, a variety of vendors will sell everything Irish along with all types of food, and local bars and restaurants will offer their own specials.
Saturday includes a 5K run and at 10 a.m. the Brian Riley Pipe Exhibition on the field at Eighth and Central avenues. Free Irish dance lessons will be available from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Anglesea Volunteer Fire House, Second and Olde New Jersey avenues.
On Sunday, a parade will start at 12:30 p.m. at 24th and Surf avenues, continuing to Spruce and Olde New Jersey avenues.
Contact Trudi Gilfillian:
If you go
The 22nd annual Irish Fall Festival starts today and runs through Sunday in North Wildwood. For information, call 800-IRISH-91 or visit www.CMCAOH.com
Shuttle bus transportation will be available for festivalgoers. Buses will run in North Wildwood from Second and Olde New Jersey avenues along Surf Avenue to 26th Avenue. Shuttle bus service through Wildwood and Wildwood Crest will also be available.