DEADWOOD | Things are about to get a little bit Irish.
Deadwood is leading the charge for western South Dakota's annual celebration of Irish-American heritage and Ireland's patron saint, St. Patrick, with the city's annual St. Patrick's Day Weekend on March 16-17.
Amanda Kille, marketing and sponsorship director for the Deadwood Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau, said the tried-and-true format will remain largely the same, with the weekend continuing to sport the popular pub crawl, "Leprechaun Olympics," parade and more. All of the weekend's events are free to attend.
Kille said the popular pub crawl and parade are always on a Saturday, so they don't always fall on the actual St. Paddy's Day holiday. But this year, St. Patrick's Day is on March 17 — a Saturday. The Saturday, really.
"We’re really excited that it’s happening — the calendars are lining up in our favor," Kille said.
Deadwood's Irish weekend kicks off on Thursday, with the "St. Panties Day" fundraiser for the American Cancer Society at Saloon #10. Friday launches the Leprechaun Olympics, which Kille described as "carnival style games" that people of all athletic abilities can enjoy. It includes things like "Blarney Bullseye" (aka bean bag toss or cornhole), and other games like a hoop shoot or beer pong, all re-fitted with appropriately Irish names.
Also appropriate: Kille said it typically takes less skill and more luck 'o the Irish to win.
"Luck is probably the biggest factor on whether you’re going to be on the top of the scoreboard," she said.
Participants must be at least 21 years old to play. Registration for the games is from 5 p.m to 7 p.m. at the Oyster Bay, and the games are from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at various locations. Open containers are allowed in designated areas throughout town from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Then, on Saturday, it's a full day of green. The Eggs & Kegs Breakfast will be from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Saloon #10, followed by the St. Paddy's Poker Run and pub crawl registration from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Historic Franklin Hotel.
There will be live music throughout the day from two pipe and drum bands: one from the Rapid City Fire Department, and one from the Casper, Wyo., fire department. They'll participate in the parade and perform at various locations all day, Kille said.
The parade, a fan favorite, starts at noon and travels from the city's welcome center down the length of Deadwood's Main Street.
But possibly the biggest event of the day is the annual pub crawl, which Kille said has had more than 3,000 registered participants for the last three years. (This event is all about the alcohol, so, participants must, again, be at least 21 years old.)
At 2:25 p.m. sharp, participants gather for the big group photo the chamber takes every year. The pub crawl itself runs from 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Kille said when people register, they are assigned to a "clan," each sporting a sometimes sassy, sometimes eye-raising, but always Irish-inspired name. (Some of this year's clan names include "Who's Your Paddy?" "Irish You Would Spank Me," "It Ain't Over Till It's Clover" and "Beards and Whiskey Make Me Frisky.")
Then those clans are assigned a route (to avoid having 3,000 people flood the same bar at once), and someone to guide them along that route. The guide even carries a sign with an illustration of the clan name.
"It's like 'Gangs of New York,'" she said with a laugh.
This year, she said there are 20 different clans — possibly a record high — traveling around to 29 businesses across Deadwood.
While Kille said it does get a little rowdy, the structure helps to keep it from getting out of hand.
"It’s actually pretty well-behaved. People seem to know how to have fun responsibly, and we appreciate that," she said. "But of course we know they’re coming to Deadwood to have fun, and we’re happy to help with that."
Whether they're directly related to St. Paddy's Day or just for fun, here are some more Irish-inspired events:
Rapid City celebration
If Rapid City residents just can't swing a drive to Deadwood, never fear. The Black Hills Celtic Society will host a St. Patrick's Day celebration on Saturday with a parade through downtown Rapid City at 11 a.m.
The parade will include a color guard, floats (throwing candy, of course), Scout troops (of the girl, boy and cub varieties), "beauty queens in convertibles," unicyclists, firetrucks, custom cars, the World's Largest Leprechaun and St. Patrick himself.
The 12th annual Dublin Dash 5K Fun Run/Walk begins at 9 a.m. Saturday. The event is sponsored by the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology’s American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and is the group's main fundraiser for the year.
Entry is open to the public and runners may preregister online at bit.ly/2Fzj1WS. Early registration ends at noon March 16 and is $15 for Mines students and Black Hills Runners Club members, and $20 for the public.
Race day registration and check-in is from 8 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. and is $25. The race begins at Mines O'Harra Stadium and ends at the site of old Memorial Park tennis courts, near Eighth and Omaha streets.
Prizes are awarded to individuals and groups with the most original costumes.
Irish Whiskey Tasting
Learn more about whiskey and try seven of Ireland's best during this special event on March 15, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Wobbly Bobby, 510 Main St., Rapid City. Tickets are $32 and available at bit.ly/2FCd3V3.
There will be a Beer Choir St. Patrick's Day event from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. March 17 at Miner Brewing Company, 23845 U.S. Highway 385, Hill City. Get a beer, grab a seat, and spend a couple of hours singing with friends. No cover charge.
Cabbage & Kegs
Lost Cabin Beer Co. is releasing its first Irish Red Ale on March 17 during the Cabbage & Kegs St. Paddy's Day Party at Lost Cabin, 1401 W. Omaha St. in Rapid City. Every Day Jakes food truck will be on site with an Irish-themed menu. Doors open at 11 a.m.
Irish Beer Dinner
Enjoy a three-course plated meal featuring the flavors of Ireland from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at The Homestead at Prairie Berry Winery in Hill City.
Half pints of Miner Brewing craft beer or 2 to 3 ounces of Prairie Berry wine are included with each course. Tickets are $35. Visit minerbrewing.com for a menu.
A trip to the Emerald Isle
Fremont Symphony Orchestra presents Emerald Isle, featuring guest conductor Steven Trinkle, at 7 p.m. March 17 at the Lander (Wyo.) Valley High School auditorium.
Tickets are $10 per person and $20 per family, and will be available at the door.