By Sally Neel
Special to The PREVIEW
The public is invited to join in the celebration as St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church brings its annual Irish Festival to life Saturday, March 14, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the church parking lot.
The day of free activities and free food promises the shortest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the world, 30 vendors with booths filled with enchanted treasures, activities for the kids, fly-casting and fly-tying lessons, bagpipes, dancing and a concert of Irish music provided by The NightSong Trio.
The NightSong Trio — with Jessica Peterson on flute, Heidi Tanner on violin and Sally Neel at the piano — will play two 30-minute concerts filled with your favorite Irish tunes. Their music will be performed in the church at 12:30 p.m. and again at 1:30 p.m. In addition to the trio, following the parade, there will be more lively jigs provided by St. Patrick’s new bagpipe band, accompanied by its own Irish dancers.
The World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade begins at 11:30 a.m. and will stretch from one end of the parking lot to the other. The parade will include the bagpipe band, an honor guard, a hook-and-ladder fire truck (unless it is needed elsewhere), a trash truck, with the parade flanked by the St. Patrick’s float featuring St. Patrick himself (who bears a remarkable resemblance to Fr. Doug Neel) and any children who would like to ride along. Others who wish to participate in the parade are invited to line up on the north end of the parking lot at 11:20 a.m.
There will be free face painting and crafts provided for children. Free food and (nonalcoholic) drinks includes brats and chips, lemonade and coffee in the parish hall. Beer and Irish coffee also will be for sale for $5 (ID required) for those who want to celebrate with libations.
For those who enjoy the beautiful lakes and rivers in and around Pagosa Springs, the St. Patrick’s Men’s Group will be selling raffle tickets ($20 each) for your chance to win one of three great fly-fishing gear prizes. First prize is a Sage 4-piece, 5 weight MOD rod and a Ross Animas 4/5 reel, line and case. Second prize is 5 weight, 9-foot rod, reel, line and case (kit). Third prize is a $300 gift certificate. The drawing will be held on Sept. 5 at 6 p.m.
“These are terrific prizes for three lucky winners,” said Neel, fly-fishing aficionado. “The money from the raffle will go towards local charities supported by St. Patrick’s. If you need help with your casting technique, the festival will include free casting lessons along with a free fly-tying class. So, for those interested in this wonderful sport, we’ve got you covered.”
For the bookworms, there will be a prefestival used book sale in the church library from 8 to 10:30 a.m. There has been a large influx of used books to spark the interest of every sort of reader. If you are a lover of mysteries, romantic novels, how-to books, history books, cookbooks or children’s books, this is a wonderful time to stock up on some great finds. Paperbacks are only 25 cents and hardbacks are $1. No need to be without a great book to read. Come early and take advantage of this great book sale.
“We have a record number of vendors this year,” said Lynne McCrudden. “We have everything from jewelry, spices and soaps to information booths to inform you about how you can become one of the many Pagosa Springs volunteers. With our new expanded parking lot, there will be plenty of room to enjoy the many planned activities.”
The Irish Festival is public celebration, free of charge. However, if you would like to help supply food for the hungry in Archuleta County, your canned food donations or monetary donations will be gratefully received. All proceeds will benefit the many charitable organizations supported by St. Patrick’s, including its own food box ministry.
St. Patrick’s is located at 225 S. Pagosa Blvd. For more information on the event or to find out how you can be involved, call 731-5801. Free parking will be provided in the hospital parking lot (please do not park in the emergency lot), next door to the church.
By Sally Neel