Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

City ready to get into the St. Patrick’s Day spirit

Families enjoy Get Green as adults make pub visits


Dean Jackson

Whatzup Features Writer

Published March 9, 2022

Centuries after his death, the patron saint of Ireland continues to receive a spirited day of celebration and passionate excess.

St. Patrick’s Day is beloved and set aside for parades, parties, dancing, drinking, and culture: and probably more ample examples of not-so-saintly behavior.

It’s so big in Fort Wayne that there are activities stretching several days and include at least one weekend.

Whether they’re family friendly or “spirits”-influenced, there are events for everyone.

Deer Park Irish Pub will celebrate its 24th Clover Classic and the Get Green Fest spans more than 15 years. Both are ready to go after having to adjust or cancel events due to the pandemic.

GET GREEN FEST

Hosted by Fort Wayne Professional Firefighters, Get Green Fest has become a popular downtown event.

“It always has a huge turnout,” said Jeremy Bush, a member of the firefighters union, noting 5,000 people are expected at the all-day event. The 5K race is expected to draw a thousand people alone.

“(The festival) started with just a couple of firefighters going down to the river and dying it green and having a couple of beers,” he added. “Now, it’s a pretty crazy event.”

The 5-Kilt Run/Walk begins the festival at 9:30 a.m. as it works through the West Central Neighborhood and Swinney Park. The marquee event, the greening of the St. Marys River, starts at 11 a.m. Firefighters stand on the Main Street bridge and use eco-friendly vegetable dye to turn the river a bright green.

At noon, a “leprechaun” will climb a firetruck ladder to drop “gold-plated” coins as kids, and maybe some adults, are sent scrambling.

The fun continues at 1 p.m. with a Lucky Charms-eating event. Split into age divisions, winners receive a trophy.

Events, food, drinks, and music run from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the events tent, and depending on who you ask, they may go even later.

For more info, visit getgreenfest.org

DEER PARK IRISH PUB

Entering its 24th year, Deer Park’s three-day spectacle, The Clover Classic, is ready to return to its pre-pandemic revelry.

“It’s not about going to a bar and drinking beer,” Deer Park owner Tony Henry said. “We want to create a memorable experience, something that people walk away from and say, ‘Wow, that was cool.’ ”

The merriment begins Wednesday, March 16, with The People’s Parade — dubbed “The World’s Shortest Parade” — the keg toss, and the tapping of the keg.

“We get one dance at life,” Henry said. “I’m in my later 60s now, I’m getting there and I tell you, life goes fast. And if I can give people just something to bring some little salt and pepper through the work of entertainment, then I feel like I succeeded. It’s not about knocking off beers, but it’s giving people an experience.”

The events are from the creative, quirky spirit of Henry and a team of similar-minded “fun lovers.”

The parade draws hundreds to walk a few blocks near his pub at the corner of Spring Street and Leesburg Road.

The keg toss returns after COVID cancellations. There’s no mistaking its uniqueness.

“They’re empty kegs, but we paint them up in the Irish colors, green and orange,” Henry said. “Then a dozen men, and another group of women, compete for the longest heave with a leprechaun scurrying about marking the tosses.

“It looks like they’ve been weightlifting all year long just to be able to compete,” he added. “They look like Hercules, they’re huge. And the women, too, are tough.”

Festivities start the day before St. Patrick’s Day with the lowering of the beer barrel at 5:30 p.m., followed by the parade at 6 p.m., and the tapping of the barrel at 6:30 p.m.

And don’t worry if you miss kickoff ceremonies. Irish-themed food trucks, music, and live bands continue Thursday, March 17, and Friday, March 18.

For more information, go to the Deer Park Irish Pub’s Facebook page.

MAD ANTHONY BREWING Company

When it comes to St. Patrick’s Day, this brewery says they’re not just serving up beer with green food coloring.

“It’s our Olde Fort Blonde lager dyed green and our Irish red that’s super popular,” director of marketing Josh Volz said.

A unique Irish-themed menu, exclusive to St. Paddy’s Day, will be available starting at 11 a.m. with Old 411 playing music at 7 p.m.

“It’s about enjoying the experience, having some food, listening to my music, that kind of stuff,” Volz said. “So we don’t really go for the big party, get drunk, throw up, do whatever you’re going to do type of thing”

Arrive early because events are expected to be packed.

“It’s just a big, fun, loud event where you just kind of hang out and have fun with your friends,” Volz said. “We have a big St. Paddy’s Day.”

JK O’DONNELL’S IRISH ALE HOUSE

If live music is your thing, then you’ll have trouble matching this year’s lineup at JK O’Donnell’s.

The Wayne Street watering hole opens its tent at 4 p.m. with a limited bar. Live music plays from 5-11 p.m.

Sean Patrick McCarthy says the venue always has a festive holiday. Patrons show up with “green hair, tattoos, jerseys, and it’s always green, always fun, and always unique.”

Music opens with the Shrugging Sisters at 5 p.m., followed by the Ragtag Bunch, Soltre, and Debutants.

THREE RIVERS DISTILLING CO.

St. Patrick’s Day at Three Rivers Distilling is anchored by its pints and flights specials.

Patrons at the spot on Wallace Street between Clinton and Lafayette streets can sample beers and craft spirits like whiskey, vodka, gin, and bourbon, and sip on Irish-themed cocktails.

O’SULLIVAN’S Italian Pub

It’s not so much a celebration as much as its just what they do every night at O’Sullivan’s.

There are no specials or events at this bar at the corner of Runnion Avenue and West Main Street, except that on Thursday, March 17, they get going at 7 a.m. and run through 3 a.m. with green beer flowing throughout.

It’s simple, but just right.

It’s been a traditional stop for revelers for years.

Pedal City

Moving east along Main Street, Pedal City will open at 11 a.m. with karaoke at 5 p.m.

There will also be tractor rides with their 20-seat “bar on a trailer” traveling to other bars through the late afternoon.

Welch’s Ale House

South of downtown on Calhoun Street, Welch’s Ale House will be getting into the spirit, serving up corned beef and cabbage stew, bangers and mash, and a shepherd’s pie sandwich on a hoagie roll, with pints of Guinness and shots of Jameson.

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