(Main photo by Heather Tollefson Photography in St. Peter)
From churches to pubs, Main Streets to arts venues, Irish and wannabe Irish celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in a big way here in Southern Minnesota.
We’ve compiled a sampling of events to embrace your inner leprechaun. Whether you’re seeking a family-oriented celebration or something that involves drinking green beer, you can find a way to experience Irish culture and heritage. So grab your green and join the fun.
52nd Annual Irish Celebration, Waseca
“It’s a big deal to celebrate our Irish heritage,” says Anne Clayton, member of the Irish American Club of Southern Minnesota, sponsor of Waseca’s Saturday, March 14, St. Patrick’s Day celebration. “We want to pass that along to our kids.”
And so the club does in a family-oriented event that begins with an Irish Choir-directed sing-along at 10am at Church of the Sacred Heart, 111 Fourth St. NW. Expect popular songs like “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” and “Danny Boy,” not bar tunes, Clayton says. Mass, led by Bishop John Michael Quinn (yes, he’s Irish), and crowning of Mr. and Mrs. Emerald Isle follow at 10:30.
Says Sacred Heart’s Father Gregory Leif of German, not Irish, ancestry, “The Irish-American heritage gives them pride in both God and country and helps them to celebrate family traditions and genealogy.”
Come noon, those Irish families (known as “clans”) parade from the church to The Mill event center, 310 Second Ave. SW., for Mulligan Stew. A rally—a time of Irish singing, storytelling and more—follows at 2pm. Clayton advises wearing green or risk getting pinched. Irish lore has it that leprechauns pinch those not dressed in green.
Shops vending Irish items, baked goods and other merchandise will be open at The Mill. Kids can enjoy face painting and coloring. And BINGO starts at 4pm.
The evening is devoted to the crowning of Miss St. Patrick and Miss Irish Rose, starting with a 7pm talent competition. An Irish jig contest and a dance close out the festivities in Waseca.
For more information, visit https://irishclubmn.weebly.com.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade, St. Peter
Initiated in the 1970s, St. Peter’s St. Patrick’s Day parade features Irish clans and musical groups that follow a several-block route starting at the corner of Broadway and South Third Street. The parade begins at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17, and is sponsored by the St. Peter Ambassadors.
Bars and restaurants in St. Peter offer food and drink specials beginning at 3pm.
For more information, visit http://www.stpeterambassadors.com.
St. Patrick’s Celebration, Parade & Rally, Le Center
Le Center’s St. Patrick’s Day observance begins at 7 p.m. Friday, March 13, with the queen coronation program and crowning of Irish royalty at the American Legion, 97 S. Park Ave.
The next morning at 11am on March 14, the celebration continues with a St. Patrick’s Day Mass at the Church of St. Mary, 165 N. Waterville Ave. Three hours later, Irish clans gather in the church parking lot for the 2pm parade to the Legion and more merriment. The band IV Play performs at 9 p.m.
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/lcstpats
St. Patrick’s Day Parade, New Ulm
Although a decidedly German city, New Ulm is home to the Irish Cultural Society of New Ulm, organizer of Minnesota’s oldest consecutive running Irish parade. This year’s 54th annual St. Patrick’s Day parade begins at 5pm Tuesday, March 17, in the historic downtown. It features clans, bagpipers and more.
After the parade, join the Gathering of the Clans Banquet for Irish fare and music at Don’s Pub, aka Veigel’s Kaiserhoff, 221 N. Main St. And, yes, that would be a German restaurant known for its German food and BBQ ribs. But Irish for a day.
For more information, visit www.newulm.com/visitors-community/things-to-do/festivals/st-patricks-day-parade.
St. Patrick’s Grand Parade & More, Wabasha
Costumed local Irish clans gather at Wabasha’s Heritage Park (under the bridge) at noon on Saturday, March 14, to march several blocks to the VFW, according to Karen Mathias, co-owner of The Olde Triangle Pub and “a little bit of Irish.”
But her eatery is through-and-through Irish from name to décor to the daily main course offerings of Irish Stew, Fish & Chips, Bangers & Mash and Shepherd’s Pie. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, the pub adds a specialty, Corned Beef & Cabbage, available the evening of March 14 and all day on March 17.
Want green beer? That, too, will be served upon request.
Enhancing the dining, or drinking, experience on March 14 is live music throughout the afternoon and evening at this Irish pub, 219 Main St. W., in downtown Wabasha.
For more information, visit www.theoldetrianglepub.com.
The Church of St. Patrick Celebration, Shieldsville
At Minnesota’s second oldest Irish Catholic parish, The Church of St. Patrick founded in 1856 in Shieldsville, St. Patrick’s Day holds special importance. “It’s a tradition to honor our patron saint,” says church trustee Elgin Trcka, also a life-long parishioner and coordinator of this year’s event.
The celebration is set for Sunday, March 15, beginning with a 10am Mass followed by Mulligan Stew served at 11am until gone. Cost is a free-will offering.
Czech, not Irish, musicians provide an afternoon of entertainment. From noon until 2 p.m., the Czech Area Concertina Club from Montgomery performs. And from 2-2:30 p.m. club member Jake Minar Bastyr plays a concertina he crafted. Ken Pomije follows on his button accordion until 3 p.m.
Drawings for cash prizes end the celebration. All Irish and wannabe Irish must be present to claim their cash/pots of gold during the event at 7525 Dodd Road, Shieldville (northwest of Faribault).
For more information, visit www.spshieldsville.org.
Luck of the Irish Festival with Fish Fry, St. Mary’s Parish of Winona
Food and fun center the Luck of the Irish Festival from 5-9 p.m. Friday, March 20, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 1303 Broadway, Winona. The menu features broiled/batter-fried fish, baked potatoes/french fries, coleslaw, desserts and assorted beverages, alcoholic and non-alcoholic.
Activities include a silent auction, casino style gambling (for fun), and $6,000 in Pot of Gold cash prizes. Raffle tickets are $10 with a limited number of tickets sold.
For more information or to purchase meal or raffle tickets, call St. Mary’s at 507-452-5656. Or visit https://stmaryswinona.org.
St. Patrick’s Day Event, Paradise Center for the Arts, Faribault
St. Patrick’s Day comes early to the Paradise Center for the Arts, 321 Central Ave. N., Faribault, with an evening of Irish-themed entertainment beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 13. Folk singer, Irish flute and whistle player Norah Rendell, who specializes in the dance and song traditions of Ireland and her native Canada, kicks off the entertainment.
The Northerly Gales, a Celtic/Americana group from St. Paul, headlines the show which also includes costumed Irish step dancers.
For more information or to purchase tickets, call 507-332-7372 or visit https://paradisecenterforthearts.org.
St. Patrick’s Day Crafts, Paradise Center for the Arts, Faribault
Kids ages kindergarten-fifth grade can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by crafting shamrocks, leprechauns and more from 3:30-5:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, at the Paradise Center for the Arts, Faribault. Kate Langlais leads the class, which costs $16 for members and $20 for non-members with a $5 supply fee.
For more information or to register for this class, call 507-332-7372 or visit https://paradisecenterforthearts.org.
Trinity Irish Dance Company Performance, Sheldon Theatre, Red Wing
The international, critically-acclaimed Trinity Irish Dance Company takes the stage at the Sheldon Theatre, 443 W. Third St., Red Wing, for a 7:30 p.m. show on Friday, March 20. These dancers fuse Ireland’s traditional dance form with elements of American movement innovation to create a dazzling and fast-paced performance.
For more information or to purchase tickets, call 651-388-8700 or visit www.sheldontheatre.org/event/trinity-irish-dance-company.
By Audrey Kletscher Helbling