FAIR SETS EYES A-SMILING IRISH-STYLE FESTIVAL HAS A FOLLOWING.
ENCINO - It was at the same green beer, kilt- and clog-wearing festival that Kathleen and Casey Muldoon first met.
Kathleen was looking for a knickknack - she just didn't figure it would be 6 feet tall.
Casey was attracted by the sparkle in Kathleen's eye.
``He followed me around for two hours,'' said Kathleen Muldon, who had gone to the Irish festival to meet her dad and found Casey as they stood in front of a booth watching a comedian.
Kathleen picked up a beret and Casey couldn't resist telling her how beautiful she looked. ``It was her eyes, they sparkled,'' Casey said.
The same night, the two talked on the phone. In fact, they talked on the phone every night that week. And it was six months later that they were married in an Irish-themed wedding.
For their honeymoon, the two went to Ireland, and in August the two are expecting their first child and made plans to name him Sean Patrick.
Every year, to celebrate the event that brought them together, the two come to the Great American Irish Fair and Musical Festival, which was held this year at Woodley Park.
``This is one of the festivals that makes L.A. great,'' said Tom LaBonge, who served as grand marshal on Sunday. ``People are having a great time enjoying the Irish dancers and the Irish food. It's a beautiful location for a festival.''
Terry Anderson, president of the Irish Fair Foundation, said that the two-day event, now in its 26th year, attracted the organizers' goal of 40,000 people.
Coming to the Irish Fair has been a Father's Day tradition for Steve and Laurie McLaughlin, who have come to the fair for nearly a dozen years with their daughters.
``We love it. We come every year,'' said Steve McLaughlin, 50. ``We like the music and are looking forward to seeing the new bands.''
The day starts as daughters Meaghan, 16, and Kathleen, 14, make a traditional Irish breakfast in bed for their father with bacon, eggs, corn beef hash, fried tomatoes, mushrooms and grits - Steve McLaughlin's favorite.
The family took a trip to Ireland three years ago and enjoy coming to the festival to stay close to their heritage. ``We've entrenched our family in the culture,'' said Laurie McLaughlin said.
Among his favorite activities, Steve McLaughlin enjoys seeing re-enactments of scenes of ancient Ireland and visiting the vendors hoping to find tin whistles, which he collects.
``It's our job to come and walk around until we are drop-dead tired and sunburned,'' Steve McLaughlin said. ``We're always thoroughly satisfied.''
(1) Matthew Lewis of Woodland Hills aims his arrow at a target Sunday at the Irish Fair and Musical Festival in Encino.
(2 -- 3) Bryan Tuck prepares to hurl a 28-pound hammer in a display of traditional Gaelic games Sunday at the Irish Fair and Musical Festival in Woodley Park, left. Below, step dance contestants wait their turn before the judges.
John Kennedy/Staff Photographer