A host of events are slated for the St. Patrick's Day Festival in the Irish Capital of Texas. From pageants to parades and dancers to dogs, the annual celebration in Dublin is packed with activities.

The festival begins Thursday with a stew cookoff, dog show, Little Mr. and Miss Dublin Pageant and more.

Chefs will put their culinary creativity to the test at the stew cook-off with set up beginning at 11 a.m. The contest, which takes place at Dr Pepper's Celebration Park, has no rules and contestants can use their favorite recipe to create their best batch of stew - made from scratch or not.

If cooking isn't your forte, $2 will buy a cup and spoon to roam among the contestants and taste each of their dishes.

After eating, sit back and watch the second annual Bradberry's Best Dog Show beginning at 1 p.m.

Last year's event attracted more than 150 canines, according to Karen Wright, executive director of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce.

This isn't your average kennel club dog show. Awards will be presented to man's best friend for cutest, funniest and 14 other titles. Area residents are encouraged to bring the family dog, along with a $10 entry fee and current rabies vaccination, and let them prance around Celebration Park and woo the judges.

Thursday's events continue with the Little Mr. and Miss Dublin Pageant at 7 p.m. at the middle school auditorium.

Always a fun evening - this year's event is even more so with the addition of four sword-bearing charmers.

The Chamber is also bringing the carnival back to town which will open Thursday night and continue nightly through Saturday from 6-10 p.m.

Highlighting the St. Patrick's Day Festival is the Miss Dublin and Junior Miss Dublin Pageant to be held at 7 p.m. Friday, also at the middle school auditorium.

Ladies competing for the title have been preparing for weeks and have already completed the casual wear competition and an interview before a panel of judges.

Friday night, the ladies will entertain the crowd by answering an impromptu question and modeling formal wear.

Miss Dublin and Junior Miss Dublin will be crowned after the judges make what is sure to be a very tough decision.

The main event begins at 10 a.m. Saturday with a parade that will wind down Patrick Street. Floats, marching groups and more will travel through the center of town. Entry forms are still available on the Chamber's website.

City Park will be the backdrop of the day as festival-goers stroll through arts and crafts booths, watch and listen to live entertainment and break a sweat in the "ancient" Highland Games.

Taking stage in the city park building will be four performances from country music to gospel jazz throughout the day.

"Dublin Idol" will have participants vying for a chance to win Dublin Dollars and cash. Beginning at 5 p.m., a variety of acts will step center stage to show off their talents.

Special shopping, museum tours, a petting zoo, NASCAR mini stock cars, food and vendors with a wee bit of everything and more will cap off the 2011 St. Patrick's Day Festival.