A year ago, Saint Patrick’s Day was ostensibly canceled in Fort Wayne.
It was canceled pretty much everywhere, but its absence may have been felt most keenly in the Summit City.
Saint Patrick’s Day is a kind of a big deal here.
Canceling Saint Patrick’s Day in Fort Wayne is like canceling Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney or Oktoberfest in Munich or Okay Days in Okay, Oklahoma.
Saint Patrick’s Day is usually better than OK in Fort Wayne, but it wasn’t last year.
Things aren’t yet back to normal in the world, but many of Fort Wayne’s St. Patrick’s Day stalwarts are going to try to present some semblance of a celebration. It may not be ideal, but it will at least be the okayest Saint Patrick’s Day we’ve ever had.
Deer Park Irish Pub
Deer Park’s annual three-day festival, The Clover Classic, will not be happening this year as such. This means no parade, no race, no breakfast, no keg toss, no tent, and no live bands.
But the pub will be celebrating outdoors and under the open sky throughout the holiday itself. Food trucks from Big Eyed Fish and Full Circle BBQ will be on site and recorded Irish music will be DJed by longtime Wooden Nickel manager Tim Hogan.
Northeast Indiana has had an unseasonably warm March thus far, so perhaps the weather will cooperate.
“We have a little trepidation,” Deer Park owner Tony Henry said. “But we’re going to weather the Celtic storm tentless this year.”
Henry jokingly added that “Kiss Me I’m Irish” pins will be banned.
O’Sullivans Italian/Irish Pub
Saint Patrick may have driven the snakes from Ireland, but it took COVID-19 to drive the Saint Patrick’s Day from O’Sullivans.
The Italian/Irish pub will be open on the holiday but will not be celebrating it.
“We will be open regular hours, 11 a.m. to 3 a.m., with socially distanced seating and adherence to the mask policy per the Allen County Department of Health and the State of Indiana via the Governor’s Executive Orders,” the pub’s social media guru told me.
There will be no Saint Patrick’s Day specials of any kind. The pub’s social media guru was emphatic on this point.
Presumably, you’ll still be allowed to tell fellow revelers that they look like they “have great crack” without offending them or the pub’s management. “Craic” (pronounced “krak”) is Irish slang for “fun.” So having great craic merely means that you know how to have a good time.
Three Rivers Distilling Co.
Fort Wayne’s only craft distillery will be hosting an Igloo Brew Tasting event.
The igloos in question are those plastic domes that many area establishments acquired during the pandemic to provide outdoor seating throughout the winter.
Each igloo seats up to eight people. Only ten slots are available for Saint Patrick’s Day.
There will be beer flights, special cocktails, souvenir glasses, party favors, and something called Irish coddle (sliced sausages and rashers with chunky potatoes and seasonings).
This is a ticketed event for $30 per igloo. There will be seating inside the distillery as well that day.
JK O’Donnell’s Irish Ale House
No tent, live bands, or reservations this year, but the Irish pub and restaurant will be open for business.
My understanding is that corned beef and cabbage is more of an Irish-American delicacy than a purely Irish one. Whatever its origins, it has become an essential part of the holiday for people with Irish ancestry and for people who love Ireland a lot even though they may not be able to find it (or Europe, for that matter) on a map.
Good luck even finding a map these days.
Henry’s is one of the primary places where local people go to eat corned beef and cabbage on Saint Patrick’s Day. There is only one day a year when Henry’s opens at 11 a.m. instead of 4 p.m. and it is on this holiday.
Lamb stew and an Irish-inflected vegetarian option will also be offered.
Pedal City Bar & Grill
The bicycle-themed pub and beer garden will be hosting a four-day festival, the first day being the holiday itself.
There will be DJs and food specials, including Irish potato nachos, bangers and mash, fish and chips, and Irish Guinness wings.
Mad Anthony Brewing
Mad Anthony will offer a full Irish-themed menu including the wittily named sandwich, the Reuben Kincaid. If you don’t understand that reference, just order the Dave Madden instead.
Mad Anthony will also offer a green-dyed version of its Olde Fort Blonde Lager. The green-dyed beer one sometimes finds at saloons on Saint Patrick’s Day is made from the cheapest mass-produced American lager available, brands such as Uncle Skunky or Venom Island or Ole’ Insecticide. These are all made-up names, but perhaps you catch the gist I am tossing.
If you are going to have green-dyed beer on Saint Patrick’s Day, it should be an excellent craft lager like Olde Fort Blonde.
The Fort Wayne arm of the Indianapolis-based Hotel Tango distillery will furnish paying customers with Guinness pot pie and Shepherd’s pie on the holiday. The Shepherd’s pie will be available in a vegan and gluten-free version.
HT2 will partner with Jameson Irish Distillers to create Irish-themed cocktails.
Partnering with Jameson is a great idea if you’re another distillery. Partnering with Jameson is somewhat more perilous if you’re just a drinker.
Conner’s Rooftop Bar
Fort Wayne’s only rooftop bar will offer the following drink special on Saint Patrick’s Day: Frozen Conner’s Coffee with Tullamore Dew.
Trubble’s Saint Patrick’s Day festivities will happen in private tents this year.
“Each tent is UV sterilized between guests, and it can accommodate up to 10 people comfortably,” Trubble’s GM and co-owner Keli Hankee wrote in an email. “All tents are equipped with two heaters, a rug, chair cushions, twinkling lights, and a Bluetooth speaker.”
There will be a special tent menu featuring that ancient Irish foodstuff: Pizza.
Tents cost $100 apiece. That’s a rental fee. You will not be allowed to bring your tent home.
What your C-note does cover is appetizers, pizza, drinks, and party favors for you and your friends. Sign up at trubblebrewing.com.
O’Reillys Irish Pub and Restaurant
The Irish bar and restaurant near Parkview Field will offer specials on Reuben sandwiches and corned beef with cabbage on the holiday. Of course, the Reuben is on the regular menu.
The menu is always packed with traditional Irish fare and innovative mashups.
Even if you are no more Irish than a leprechaun with an unnatural fear of breakfast cereal thieves, you will find something on this menu that will both do justice to the Irish people and to your appetite.
The Get Green Festival
The greening of the river, and the firefighter-hosted family festival, will not be happening this year, according to Fort Wayne Professional Firefighters IAFF Local 124.
Don’t scoff. The Shamrock Shake is as old as Saint Patrick.
The only difference is that his was made with goat milk.
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