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Throw Down The Gauntlet At Sonora Celtic Faire

In a time that was lawless, chaotic and a bit ominous, there was also the light that gleamed from the sword yielded by a knight in his shining armor during the medieval times. Today things are quite a bit different than the medieval period; however, in celebration of Celtic heritage and the Middle Ages, the 31st annual Sonora Celtic Faire is being staged this month at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds in Sonora, March 10 through 12.

“I am the originator of the event. We started it 31 years ago this March,” stated Patrick Karnahan. “The Celtic Faire started out as an art show that grew.”

After living in Ireland for a few years as a landscape painter and teaching art on the west coast of Ireland, Karnahan brought the paintings that he did not sell, his knowledge of Ireland, Scotland, Northern England and the Celtic heritage back to the States.

As a member of the Sonora Chamber of Commerce and through involvement with the visitor’s bureau there, Karnahan feels very comfortable hosting the event in Sonora, which is also his hometown.

“We get a lot of cooperation from our local lodging associations,” explained Karnahan. “The community is very supportive of the event.”

Celebrating the cultures of Ireland, Scotland, Cornwall, Brittany and Wales, this event will transport guests to medieval times where they will be entertained by Celtic musicians on three stages and a thrilling live action International Ultimate Jousting Championship and much more.

“The jousting event, which is medieval Renaissance combat on horseback, got real popular. We introduced it to the faire in year 12 and it was about the time we were moving to Calaveras,” added Karnahan. “We realized it was getting so popular that we had to get back to a location that had an adequate equestrian platform and Sonora has a great one. The jousting tournament this year is the best ever.”

That, Karnahan said, is because it is a true competition as opposed to a demonstration.

“It is real jousting, not something you see at Medieval Times or acted at Renaissance fairs,” he explained. “These are real competitors using real lances so when they get hit off horses they are feeling the full impact.”

The extreme sport is between two competitors on horses wielding lances in a battle to expel the other rider from his or her horse to the ground.

People of all ages and walks of life are invited to attend this three-day event that happens once a year and is the only Celtic Faire of its kind on the west coast, according to Karnahan.

“You don’t have to be of Celtic blood to enjoy it,” said Karnahan. “There is something for everyone, for every age, from a small child to someone in their 90s. There are entertaining things to see. I think one thing that a person would find for the first time is that they are going to be mesmerized by how many activities and things that are going on around them all the time.”

There will be knights in armor from different centuries of Scottish and English history that battle as well as Vikings, Roman army soldiers, Scottish highlanders and the Irish Brigade roaming the Sonora countryside for guests to enjoy.

The event will feature fencing demonstrations, Scottish highlander dancers, Irish step dancers, bagpipe bands and over 100 vendors that sell imported goods that were handmade from other countries along with an assortment of other items.

Many of the food and beverage offerings will fit the Celtic theme; however, there will also be a variety like Asian, Greek and Italian food to suit everybody’s palate.

Performers will be walking around the faire in attire fitting for the era juggling and fire eating to entertain revelers.

New this year to the Faire is the Whiskey Experience, where an entire building has been dedicated to whiskey tasting. Patrons will be entertained by live music and be able to sample a variety of single malts from Scotland and Irish whiskeys. As part of the whiskey experience there will be a workshop on how to distill whiskey as well as how you should drink it.

“To say you could see it all in one day would be difficult because there is so much to see and so much to do,” expressed Karnahan. “There is not just one stage and not one vendor hall. It is not just one arena.

“There is so much to be entertained by. Everyone is included at this event. We want everyone to have a good time.”

The festivities begin on Friday, March 10 and will continue through Sunday, March 12. The event will be held rain, snow or shine and it is held indoors and outdoors.


For tickets, times, attractions and more information visit or call 800-446-1333 for general information.