NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Most die-hard Irish-at-heart know all about the huge celebrations with big parades in places such as New York, Chicago and Boston, but there are plenty of other festivals that celebrate the green each year in some surprising locales:
Emmetsburg, Iowa: When a small town nearly doubles its population for a festival, you know it has to be good. Approximately 7,000 people flood into the Iowa sister city of Dublin, Ireland, for this festival, which includes a pageant, talent show, fish fry, a half-relay, chainsaw art and of course, Irish stew. It runs March 10-17.
Oak Forest Fleadh, Oak Forest, Ill.: A Fleadh is simply Gaelic for “festival” (pronounced “flah”), and these festivals typically celebrate the music or culture. Oak Forest gets its green on with customer appreciation parties, a 5K race, open bike ride, family parade and a pub and restaurant open house March 9.
Shamrock, Texas: If a place named “Shamrock” missed out on throwing a party on St. Patrick’s Day, it would be a bit of bad luck. This tiny town of 2,000 swells to more than 10,000 people for this celebration, which includes a 5K run, a parade, dinner, dance and carnival. It runs March 14-17.
Springfield, Mo.: The big St. Patrick’s event in this southwest Missouri city is the parade, but this is the only festival we found that has an official Irish Pet Contest. Pets are dressed in their best green wear and are judged for originality, talent, stage presence and fun factor. The fun continues that evening at a pub. Hopefully, the pets won’t be celebrating by drinking green beer. It runs March 16.