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Iowa Irish Fest expecting big crowd

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The 11th Annual Iowa Irish Fest is underway in Waterloo this weekend.  And it's expected to be crowded.  Organizers are expecting more than 40,000 people to attend the festivities during the three-day event.

The Iowa Irish Fest is a fan favorite for bringing all things Irish to the area.

"For me, it is the souvenir shops.  The food is good, and I love the beer," said Jamie Dahl from Minneapolis.

"The food is good and the music is good. We love that it is so authentic," said Maureen Rutten, who came all the way from South Dakota to celebrate.

While some stick to the authenticity, others are just in good Irish spirit.  The First Irish Pope, His Hooleyness Malarkey, is in charge of giving everyone permission to fully enjoy themselves.

"It gathers people together to have a great time and celebrate. Irish Hooley is a celebration, and malarkey is nonsense. We get together, and we have a great time," said the First Irish Pope.

Irish or not, most people say the bands are their favorite.

"Even the sad Irish music makes you smile. I was trying to think 'why is Gaelic Storm so popular?' Everything they sing makes you smile and tap your toes, even the sad stuff," said the First Irish Pope.

Coming in as a close second are the Irish Wolfhounds. Each dog weighs nearly 200 pounds.  They are said to be the "king of dogs and the dogs of kings."

 "They were the dogs of the Irish kings. Originally, they were used as war dogs, but after the kings stopped bickering, they used them to eradicate the wolf in Ireland," said owner Jeanie Pitzenberger.

There's something for everyone at Iowa Irish Fest.  For a full schedule, click here.

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