On the 17th day of every month, the patrons at Paddy’s Touchdown Lounge in Kalispell are treated to a special tradition owner Pat Kelly has dubbed “St. Practice Day.”
The point is to whet their appetites with green beer in preparation for the lounge’s biggest celebration of the year: St. Patrick’s Day.
March 17 falls on a Thursday this year, but that won’t stop establishments all over the valley from tapping the Guinness kegs and prepping the corned beef and cabbage.
Where to be Lord of the Dance
Out at The Cottage Inn in Kila, owner Keith Bassett said this year’s Irish holiday marks the fifth anniversary for the British pub. St. Patty’s is a major celebration for the Inn, so much so that half of the dining room is already reserved.
“Last year we had people asking for reservations on bar stools,” Bassett said.
The Cottage Inn hosts Irish jam sessions every Thursday, and the party only gets bigger on St. Patty’s.
Bassett says the regular five- or six-musician evening blossoms into an “Irish philharmonic orchestra” composed of at least 10 musicians. During the evening, tables will be shifted to create a dance floor, Bassett said.
“We go all out; it’s our biggest night,” Bassett said. “We’re going to rock the place.”
To help spread out the festivities for people who need to work on Friday, the Cottage Inn will host local Celtic group Tra Le Gael on Saturday.
At Paddy’s, the patrons will be treated to a bagpipe performance from the Montana Highlanders at 5 p.m.
In Whitefish, the funk band 20 Grand will take over the Craggy Range Bar and Grill for a St. Patty’s party. The music begins at 9:30 p.m.
The Blue Moon Bar Nite Club in Columbia Falls will have a DJ providing music for the bar, as well as $1 green beers and giveaways.
For those who feel the Irish spirit taking over early, the Belton Chalet presents the Shamrockers, a five-piece Irish band, on March 12 at 6 p.m.
Where to Find Green Beer and Other Delicacies
Revelers searching to quench their thirst need look no further than the valley’s local pubs and breweries.
For the early risers, Paddy’s Touchdown Lounge will be open at 8 a.m. with a top o’ the mornin’ deal: the first green beer is free until 2 p.m., and each subsequent green brew is $1. Of course, celebrators cannot live on beer alone (they may think they can, but it is ill-advised), so Paddy’s will be offering corned beef and cabbage and Guinness stew.
There will also be an Irish-themed costume competition happening three times throughout the day. Three winners from each time slot get $100 and a free drink each week for the rest of the year.
Tamarack Brewing Company in Lakeside will begin its annual tradition of “Kill the Keg” at 6 p.m., during which patrons will get free glasses of stout while the keg is still alive.
The Tamarack bartenders will also serve $5 Irish cocktails and $4 shots of Jameson Irish Whiskey. The kitchen will serve corned beef and cabbage as well.
Up in Whitefish, the Great Northern Brewing Company will serve green beer to the musical stylings of Alex Hogle.
The Cottage Inn is already stocked with Irish delights, says Bassett.
“There will be traditional Irish food and Guinness galore,” he said.
They will also be offering specials on Irish cocktails, as well as the entire regular menu with corned beef and cabbage added in.
Kalispell Eagles will also offer a traditional St. Patty’s dinner from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., including corned beef, cabbage, red potatoes, baby carrots and rolls for only $6 a person. For information call, 755-6088.
In Bigfork, check out the celebration at the Garden Bar and Grill on Electric Avenue, and be sure to wear green.
Where to Watch the Whole Town Go Green
Of course, one of the best-known traditions in the valley is the St. Patrick’s Day parade in downtown Kalispell. Sponsored by Ancient Order of Hibernians and Kalispell Chamber of Commerce, the parade meanders northward on Main Street as a way to invite spring back into the valley.
Floats are supposed to be created in an Irish theme; the best will earn a $100 prize.
The parade will begin at 4 p.m., so families and individuals wishing to get a good spot on the sidewalk are advised to arrive early. The line up starts at First Avenue West.
Check-in will be at the southeast corner of the high school parking lot on the corner of Fourth Avenue West and Eighth Street West. Entry forms can be sent to parade chairman Mark Lalum by mail at Box 579, Kalispell, 59903 or through fax at 406-755-7478.
For more information on events, visit www.flatheadevents.net.
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