Portsmouth’s massive St. Patrick’s Day celebration is nearly old enough to vote, with 16 years of music, food, and merriment, and the group is readying for another big week of festivities.
The celebration began in the early years of the Port City Café and Pub and Manager Cory Maillet believes it is important to the community, because there isn’t a lot going on in spring and this gives people a reason to leaves their homes again to celebrate for the first time every year.
“It gets people together at the start of spring to get out and spend time together having fun for the people of the region, and, really, tri-state,” Maillet said.
Maillet begins planning with the 7 Nations Celtic Club, which plans the parade and assists with some events at the pub. It takes four solid months of planning, but the pub is usually thinking about it all year long.
“When December hits, I really start to think about who to contact, what I need to do, and start pulling together all of the fine details to crack down and really get to work,” Maillet explained.
For those who are new to the community, or haven’t been lucky enough to attend, can expect a full house at Port City. Bagpipers kick things off for the major celebration, Cirque d’Art sends over dancers, bands perform traditional music, and more.
“It is probably the most unique St. Patrick’s Day party within two hours of here. I don’t think you can hop in a car and go to anything like this, unless you go to Cincinnati or Columbus,” Maillet claimed. “We actually bring in a lot of people from Ashland, Huntington, Kentucky and so on, because of how big our celebration is and what we put into it. It is not ever day you see bagpippers and step dancers and people having so much legitimate fun.”
The festivities kick off with live music by Jeff Valentine and John Biggs on March 11 at 7 p.m.
Charlie Haskins will instruct a painting class on March 14 at 6 p.m.
7 Nations Celtic Club will have a drink toast contest on March 15 at 6 p.m.
The Portsmouth Area Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours will be March 16 at 5 p.m.
St. Patrick Day, March 17, will feature live music by the Rose Mountain Ramblers and Ian Jones and the Tipperary Three starting at 5 p.m.
March 18 is open for breakfast at 9 a.m., just before the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
The big festivities will begin after the parade, which include Shamrock Pipes and Drums, Cirque d’Art Celtic Dancers, Amhrain, Mad Maudlin, and the Rose Mountain Ramblers.
“As much as it stresses me out, which is something that’s normal when planning an event this size, there is this moment when the crowd is gathered and the bagpipers come in that makes it all worth it. I look around and see everyone amazed that they get to experience something like this in Portsmouth,” Maillet recalled. “It always makes me a little emotional to see our work pull together something this nice, with children on parent shoulders and people standing on raised platforms to see this type of entertainment. It is specifically unique to our event that we do every year.”
Maillet urged that the festivities are traditional by design and that he works hard to foster an authentic experience.
“A lot of times, people come in and ask why we don’t have green beer. I always tell them we don’t need green beer, because we have the real stuff from Ireland,” Maillet explained. “I really don’t like to play into the gimmicky green beer and leprechauns. Of course, that stuff comes with it, but to have real Irish cuisine, real Irish beverages, real Irish music—that’s what I strive for the event to function around.”
Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved