Break out the green flip-flops and beach towels — St. Patrick’s Day is less than a week away. But this year, Thursday, March 17, also marks another momentous occasion — the Bailey’s Center Merchants’ Association’s third annual IrishFest — a free community celebration featuring live entertainment, games, activities, food and, of course, a wee bit’o green beer!
“The Bailey’s Center has been at the heart of the Sanibel community for a century, and events like IrishFest say thank you to the community that supports us,” said Bailey’s General Store Manager Richard Johnson. “Please join us again this year and bring your friends and family along.”
“There are new merchants taking part in the event this year — K O R Island Provisions and George & Wendy’s Corner Grill, and we are thrilled to have them on board,” said BCMA President Ken Kasten.
While the BCMA welcomes new friends — including the magnificent Miss Silvia, who will be offering free face painting throughout the second half of the event — it just wouldn’t be IrishFest without some Sanibel favorites.
“We are looking forward to having the BIG ARTS Community Chorus, Kellyn Celtic Arts Irish Dance Academy, the Hat Boys, Billy Kirkland and our emcees Bridgit Stone-Budd and Ric Base as part of another event,” Kasten said. “They have been incredibly kind in showing their generous support for the Bailey’s Center and we are grateful to have them on board again this year.”
And all the BCMA businesses are getting in the holiday spirit.
“We’re excited for our second year serving Irish cream lattes at IrishFest,” said Renee Cutaia of the Coffee Bar @Bailey’s. “This is also our second year participating in the Shamrock campaign for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and we’re trying to raise as much money as we can.”
Of course, it wouldn't be St. Patrick's Day without a leprechaun, and this year Billy Kirkland, owner of Billy’s Rentals, will once again proudly serve as the BCMA's IrishFest mascot.
"Where else can you so boldly celebrate St. Patty's day than at Bailey's Center — especially when a big green leprechaun will show up with a pot'o'gold hitched up to his Segway?" Kirkland said. "We'd like to extend an invitation to the community to come and join us. The adults can enjoy a green beer and have good time, while the kids get to have all kinds of fun and reach into my pot'o'gold for some treasure!"
"Billy has been very generous with his time and resources during all of our events and IrishFest is just another example of his tremendous support. We always look forward to having him there," Kasten said.
In addition to Leprechaun Billy’s green beads and IrishFest souvenirs, the BCMA will sell “I love Sanibel” shamrock t-shirts throughout the entire event.
The 3rd annual BCMA IrishFest is free and open to the public from 4 to 7 p.m. in the Bailey’s Center, located at the corner of Periwinkle Way and Tarpon Bay Road. For more information, call 472-3400.
The Bailey’s Center Merchants’ Association is made up of Bailey’s General Store, Bailey’s True Value Hardware, Coffee Bar @Bailey’s, George & Wendy’s Corner Grill, Hillgate Communications, Island Cinema, Island Cleaners, Lily & Co. Jewelers, K O R Island Provisions, Nick’s Frozen Yogurt, Sanibel Barber Shop, Sanibel Shell Automotive, Select Vacation Properties, The Grog Shop and The Video Scene.
For more information about the BCMA, go towww.BaileysCenter.com'>www.BaileysCenter.com. JANE BRICKLEY