Everyone wants to be Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, and for area residents, they will have the opportunity when the “Irish Capital of Texas” hosts the 37th Annual St. Patrick Day Festival.

Beginning this Thursday, Dublin will roll out the green carpet for visitors as the community celebrates all things green and Irish.

To kick off the three-day celebration, festival goers can enjoy Summertime Amusements’ carnival rides at the Dublin City Park, beginning at 6 p.m. on Thursday. The carnival is offering a special all-you-can-ride bracelet night from 6-9 p.m. for a discounted price.

On Friday, the public is invited to the park once again for amusement rides and a free dance. Music will be provided by KSTV’s Grieg Mayberry at 8 p.m. from the park’s pavilion. A dance contest will also be held with door prizes being awarded.

The DJ will provide a wide-range of music, including western swing, rock-and-roll, latin and more, with dance contests for each category.

Also beginning Friday at 6 p.m. will be the St. Patty’s Day Softball Tournament at Dublin City Park. New this year is a women’s tournament bracket. Teams

Teams may still register to play in this year’s tournament by calling the Dublin Chamber of Commerce at 445-3422. Those who register before Wednesday will only be charged $150 to enter the tourney. Teams signing up after March 12 will be charged a $200 registration fee.

A traveling trophy will be presented to the first place teams in each division, and T-shirts for the first and second place teams. The tournament will continue throughout the day Saturday until an eventual champion is crowned.

The festival kicks into high gear on Saturday at the Dublin City Park with numerous activities, live entertainment and more.

Beginning at 10 a.m., the Celtic Parade will make its way through downtown Dublin along US Hwy. 377 before disbanding just south of the railroad tracks.

Parade entries will begin lining up at 8 a.m. at the high school football field with judging set to take place at 8:45.

After the parade, the public is invited to tour the Dublin Dr Pepper Bottling Co., which will be open throughout the day. Festival goers may also drop by the Dublin Historical Museum and Rodeo Museum. Admission is free but donations will gladly be accepted.

Dublin City Park will be filled with arts & crafts booths, food vendors and more. For $3 per carload, visitors can take it all in while celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.

Live entertainment will begin at 11:30 a.m. as Rickey Pittman, guitarist and singer, performs classic Irish songs, classic rock, country folk and spiritual music.

The Texas Tornadoes of Abilene are set to take the stage at noon, followed by the Breckenridge Hotfooters, the Cloverleaf Dancers and Rickey Pittman at 2 p.m. The Creative Arts Dance Academy will also perform at the park’s pavilion Saturday afternoon.

For those wanting to showcase their cooking abilities, the Dublin Chamber of Commerce will hold a stew cook-off beginning at 1 p.m. The entry fee is $35 per team and rules require cooks to use only fresh ingredients - no frozen or canned vegetables are allowed.

Trophies will be awarded to the first, second and third place teams, as well as cash prizes split from the entry fees.

New to this year’s festival will be Irish and Scottish Clan displays, a Texas Round-Up mechanical bull, the CASA Car & Motorcycle Show, plus a climbing wall, petting zoo, pony rides and more.

At 12 noon, the Highland Athletic Games will kick off, including the stone put. Similar to the shot put, the stone put requires competitors to use an ordinary stone weighing from 16-26 pounds for men and 8-18 pounds for women.

For more information about this year’s St. Patrick Day Festival, contact the Dublin Chamber of Commerce at 445-3422, or visit www.dublintxchamber.com.