There’s a saying about St. Patrick’s Day, often attributed to Adrienne Cook, that it’s an enchanted time, the day when you can turn winter’s dreams into summer’s magic.
In the Flathead, this sentiment is demonstrated as winter’s snow continues to melt and heavy coats become less necessary; the wind doesn’t seem as cold knowing spring is just around the corner.
Of course, St. Patrick’s Day is a celebration within itself, bringing out the green outfits and the Irish heritage, both real and contrived, in everyone. The biggest party in the state is undoubtedly in Butte, but for those who prefer to stay in the valley, the biggest party has become the epic weekend party at Brannigan’s Pub in Kalispell.
Having only been a part of the downtown Kalispell scene since it opened in 2012, Brannigan’s has taken its role as an Irish pub seriously, throwing down a two-day party last year complete with live music, corned beef and cabbage, an outdoor tent area for when the party was too big for the pub, and even a mechanical bull.
Mike Phillips, the front of the house manager and head leprechaun at Brannigan’s, estimated about 2,000 to 2,500 revelers attended last year’s party.
This year, the pub is taking it a step further, expecting 4,000 to 5,000 people for what they hope becomes the biggest St. Patrick’s party in Northwest Montana.
“This year there’s a bigger tent, another day and another floor,” Phillips said last week.
The 2014 St. Patrick’s Weekend Party at Brannigan’s will run for three days instead of two, March 15-17, and the new second floor of the pub will offer extra space and frivolity for partiers.
Phillips said the mechanical bull will not make an appearance this year, but there will be plenty of activities in its absence. The pub took pains to make its three-day music lineup a marriage of popular tunes from local musicians in the Flathead and the traditional Celtic fare one would expect at a St. Patty’s party.
Each day opens with the Montana Highlanders, followed by myriad bands with music from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. On Saturday, Swiftcurrent, an Irish music band, takes the stage following the Highlanders at 2 p.m., followed by the Comatose Posse from 5:30p.m. to 7:30 p.m., and ending with the night’s headliner, the Pedactor Project.
On Sunday, the daytime music offerings will include Chance Cole, Tommy Edwards, Ol’ Sap and more, followed by a 3 p.m. performance of an Irish dance team. A 7 p.m., there will be a 1980s dance party with local favorite ‘80s cover band, 1985: New Wave Time Trippers.
Monday, St. Patrick’s Day, the Highlanders kick it off at 1:45 p.m., followed by Tra le Gael at 2 p.m. John Dunningan follows up at 4:30 p.m., and Brent Jameson and the Sordid Seeds take over at 7:30 p.m.
All of the outdoor activities in the parking lot take place from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., followed up inside the pub after that, Phillips said.
Traditional Irish food is also a major part of the weekend, and Brannigan’s was already hard at work on the corned beef as of March 7; the pub was working on cooking 500 to 600 pounds of the salty fare, Phillips said.
And to go along with the food, Brannigan’s is offering plenty of drink specials, including those on Irish liquors and beer. Designated drivers will also get complimentary non-alcoholic drinks.
One of the drink specials, the Irish Red from Great Northern Brewing Company, will come extra fun, Phillips said. Everyone who buys an Irish Red will be entered into a drawing to be held on Sunday at 9 p.m., with the winner getting a free growler fill each week for a year from Great Northern.
Revelers of all ages are welcome to attend the party, Phillips said, but after 10 p.m. the party is relegated to those 21 and older.
Phillips also said Brannigan’s will get back to hosting its St. Patrick’s Day prep parties, which used to be on the 17th of each month; this year they will be held only a few times to keep them fresh and fun.
But everyone is invited to celebrate spring’s return to the valley, and Phillips said the weekend event at Brannigan’s is a good way to get out and enjoy the holiday.
“It’s a good party; I think it’s going to be a lot of fun,” he said. “Everybody wear their green.”
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