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Discover Plattsburgh and ADK Hard Cider Irish Festival

(DoNorth/Kayla Breen) Plattsburgh has been notoriously known for its St. Patrick’s Day spirit since the 1970s when thousands of college students and community members gathered downtown in massive crowds at the bars. Without becoming an actual riot, Plattsburgh turned into a mob of people dressed as leprechauns drinking their holiday-inspired green beer. One such crowd at the Monopole, a popular bar downtown, caused a beam in the floor to break, spreading fear that the entire floor would cave in at any moment. Police could not weave through the party-goers, even when someone needed to be taken to the hospital after…

(DoNorth/Kayla Breen)

Plattsburgh has been notoriously known for its St. Patrick’s Day spirit since the 1970s when thousands of college students and community members gathered downtown in massive crowds at the bars. Without becoming an actual riot, Plattsburgh turned into a mob of people dressed as leprechauns drinking their holiday-inspired green beer.

One such crowd at the Monopole, a popular bar downtown, caused a beam in the floor to break, spreading fear that the entire floor would cave in at any moment. Police could not weave through the party-goers, even when someone needed to be taken to the hospital after falling off a fire escape, which proved to be a serious problem. College students were sent home during St. Patrick’s for spring break the following year and still are today.

The City of Plattsburgh brought in a new St. Patrick’s Day tradition starting in 2015, however. Local sponsors helped the city launch the Discover Plattsburgh and ADK Hard Cider Irish Festival last March in an effort to bring back the spirit of this Celtic holiday that surrounds the Plattsburgh region ⎼ without the mayhem.

“The inspiration [for the Irish Festival] came from the fact that we are a big St. Patrick’s Day region,” Sandra Geddes, City of Plattsburgh Promotions and Special Events Organizer, says. “There are stories that go back well before I was in college. The city of downtown Plattsburgh just became alive in many ways during St. Patrick’s Day. I started in this position in January of 2015, and what I wanted to do was launch a Discover Plattsburgh event series.”

With seven events in total for 2016, the Discover Plattsburgh Event Series proved to be a success in bringing the community together for events that everyone can be a part of for free. Geddes organizes each of the events with about a month in between for planning. She thought an Irish Festival would be a good fit for the month of March following the South Side Sled and Skate event held in January. Local businesses and organizations quickly supported the idea, and the first free public St. Patrick’s Day event since 1978 was formed.

Thomas Frey of Elf’s Farm and ADK Hard Cider quickly asked to be the presenting sponsor of the event, which Geddes eagerly accepted. The farmers market building transformed into a cider tavern for adults 21 and older attending the event.

“They were a great focal point of the event because they make some really great ciders and wines,” Geddes says. “They opened up shop right in the farmers market building in the Durkee Street parking lot.”

Among the entertainment at the festival, the Glengarry Bhoys were a must-see for visitors. This Celtic band from Ontario, Canada, travelled to Plattsburgh previously, but this time, the roughly 1,000 community members who attended the festival saw them on stage for free. Their Irish rock sound layered with Scottish influences always gets the crowd up and dancing along.

As adults relax with a few drinks and listen to the music, children are sure to find fun activities to keep them occupied and having a good time. The Advocacy and Resource Center (ARC) scavenger hunt, First Weekends photo booth and the bounce house set up downtown kept children of all ages engaged and excited throughout the festival.

The second annual Discover Plattsburgh and ADK Hard Cider Irish Festival, to be held March 11, 2017, is sure to bring new events and sponsors to the festival, making it even bigger than the first. Expect a St. Patrick’s Day parade by the Durkee Street parking lot, the return of the Champlain Valley Irish Dancers, another Shamrock Shuffle 5K and more. Also, be on the lookout for drink specials and Irish meals around town at local bars and restaurants the weekend of the festival, as well as on St. Patrick’s Day.

Gear up, and wear some green as Plattsburgh prepares to bring back the Celtic spirit it was once known for as the city starts a new community tradition.

Other St. Patrick’s Day events going on in Plattsburgh:

Fiddles, Vittles and Ales- ARC

St. Augustine’s annual Irish Dinner

Chamber of Commerce Breakfast

Issue 8: Winter/Spring 2017

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