Patrick Karnahan is bringing his Celtic Faire home again, betting Sonora will prove a better fit the second time around.
Born 22 years ago at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds in Sonora, the annual celebration of all things Celtic moved to Calaveras County in the late 1990s.
At the time, Karnahan was seeking a bigger venue, more parking and more community support.
Though the Frogtown Fairgrounds in Angels Camp appeared ideal at first, Karnahan said the community never really rallied around the event.
So, when differences arose with Calaveras fairground management, Karnahan decided to give Sonora a second look.
"People tell me they're glad it's coming back," he said recently. "They feel like it's always been (Sonora's) event, and that's good. We never got that feeling in Calaveras."
But what about the lack of parking and overall smaller space in Sonora?
Karnahan says he's not worried, promising a bigger and better fair despite the venue size.
He's also taken steps to ease the parking crunch at the fairgrounds, securing the Sonora Wal-Mart parking lot.
A shuttle will ferry revelers from the Wal-Mart lot to the fair and back again, free of charge.
Shuttle stops also are planned at the stoplight near the downtown Sonora branch of the Bank of America, as well as at the Inns of California.
There also is some side-street parking near the fairgrounds. And unlike at the Calaveras site, cab service is available in Sonora.
As far as the site itself, Karnahan said attractions will be much closer together, meaning easier access and far less strenuous walks for fairgoers.
Also, the jousting arena features covered seating, and, Karnahan added, the acoustics are much better for live music in the fairground buildings in Sonora than those in Angels Camp.
With 10 bands scheduled to perform throughout the weekend, that's probably a good thing.
"I really think we're better off in Sonora," Karnahan said, "a lot better off."
This year's musical headliner is Black 47, from New York City.
Also scheduled to perform are: Beoga, from Ireland, Cara, from Germany, Scotland's Malinky, Northern California-based Cooking with Turf, as well as fair favorites Golden Bough, Tempest, Wicked Tinkers and Modesto's own Michael Lucey Band.
The Black Irish Band, co-founded by Karnahan, rounds out the fair's musical lineup. Three bagpipe bands also will perform throughout the weekend.
For those craving a medieval experience, there will be plenty of costumed re-enactors, magicians, storytellers, swordsmen and jousters on hand, not to mention the fair's Celtic marketplace, filled with vendors offering cultural items from Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Cornwall.
"People are going to see more of everything," Karnahan said, "and we'll be here, rain or shine. It's going to be a lot of fun."
Bee staff writer Mike Mooney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2384.