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Shindigs with a side of Shamrocks

East County and Portland have plenty of options to eat, drink and be Irish on St. Patty's Day
by: photo courtesy of McMenamins Edgefield, Julie McCarl and Friends performs at last year’s St. Patrick’s Day event at McMenamins Edgefield.

From its moss-draped landscape of Douglas Firs to environmental consciousness, the Portland area is awash in green. The clover color will be even more vivid this weekend as St. Patrick's Day celebrations and activities abound in and beyond East County.

With this year's holiday falling on Monday, March 17, events featuring Celtic music, dance, food, arts and crafts and more will flow consistently through the weekend. For a holiday known for revelry and high spirits, it's only natural that much activity will emanate from restaurants, pubs and hotels such as McMenamins Edgefield.

Edgefield, in fact, will be the most likely place to spot a leprechaun in East County this St. Patty's Day weekend. From Saturday, March 15, through Monday, March 17, the Troutdale resort at 2126 S.W. Halsey St., will go all out for its annual St. Patrick's Day Celebration.

Traditional dance, food and drink will abound, along with a cornucopia of Irish and roots music from the fiddle-and-vocal duo of Celtic Pride to the good-time Americana of Portland's Freak Mountain Ramblers. Bagpipers will play around the grounds. McMenamins own Irish Stout will flow, along with drink and food specials on corned beef and cabbage. For an extra special St. Patty's treat, the Seamus MacDuff Golf tournament will inaugurate an expanded 32-hole pub course.

Jeff Bryant, Edgefield property manager, said the 14th annual event offers a little something for everyone.

'The crowds just grow and grow every single year,' he said, noting that an expanded three-day St. Patrick's party is a new twist. 'We're lucky in that everything we do, people love it and come back for more. We love what we do.'

For a venue known for quality indoor and outdoor live music offerings throughout the year, Edgefield holds nothing back on St. Patty's.

Most of the featured musicians are from the Portland area. Cary Novotny and Johnny B. Connolly, Dave Cory and Django Amerson, Tom Creegan and the River City Pipe Band are among the local players sure to put a spring in everyone's Celtic step.

'We definitely want authentic Irish music out here, of course,' Bryant said. 'We like to support our local music scene. Musicians love to play on our property.'

Franz Sanger, fiddler with elastic ensemble Celtic Pride, will play Edgefield as a duo with singer Tom Teven at 3 p.m. Saturday, March 15. The Brush Prairie, Wash., resident says Celtic Pride likes to change its lineup as well as musical styles to fit the occasion. A traditional jig or reel may give way to Willie Nelson or British folk-rock ensemble Fairport Convention before coming back to the Irish clover fields.

'It's somewhat eclectic,' he said. 'We have a certain body of Celtic material that originated in Ireland and Scotland that crosses over into traditional country. We kinda like to mix it up. It keeps it interesting, and the audience likes it.'

Sanger and Celtic Pride play all over, but he admits his fondness for Edgefield on St. Patrick's Day.

'For me it's like Christmas,' Sanger said. 'I think it's an interesting celebration. There's some pretty good people who like to cut loose.'

While the Edgefield blowout anchors McMenamins' Irish celebrations, many of the family company's other locations will also offer live music and food and drink specials Monday. At the Crystal Ballroom in downtown Portland a cast of local all stars, including members of The Decemberists, will play music of legendary Irish rock band the Pogues.

With the Oregon Zoo, a charity road race and a wealth of Irish pubs, Portland has much to offer St. Patrick's Day celebrators.

The Shamrock Run on Sunday, March 16, offers distances for all levels of runners - 5k, 8k, 15k, 3.5-mile fitness walk and a 1k 'Leprechaun Lap' for children - in a race to benefit Doernbecher Children's Hospital. The race route passes the 2-foot Mill Ends Park, known as the smallest park in the world, created by columnist Dick Fagen on St. Patrick's Day 1948, according to the Wikipedia Web site.

Celebrating the international Year of the Polar Bear, the Oregon Zoo will offer interactive polar bear exhibits for children. Andrew Eberle, a zoo volunteer who studied polar bears in Churchill, Canada, will talk about his journey and how the bears are adapting to climate change.

In an annual St. Patty's tradition at the zoo, Polar Bears and sea otters will be fed their annual green shamrock ice treats and green toys.

'They seem to know something special is happening,' said zoo spokeswoman Linda D'Ae-Smith.

For serious revelers, venues like Kells Irish Restaurant and Pub, 112 S.W. Second Ave., Shamrock Bar and Grill, 4919 S.E. 82nd Ave., and Dublin Pub, 6821 S.W. Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy., are all getting into the green spirit with parties, bagpipers, food and drink specials and live bands throughout the weekend.

Outside of Edgefield, Kells has perhaps the most extensive holiday celebration, but County Cork, 1329 N.E. Fremont St., Portland, will bring the holiday to life in a slightly lower-key fashion.

For a $5 cover, revelers can take in a full evening of live music, including Circled by Hounds and Johnny Connolly, from 4 p.m. to close.

'It's gonna be really busy and packed,' said Manager Jamie Miller. 'We actually have a lot of fun here at work. We definitely look forward to it.'

Keen on green? Some St. Patty's Day options

With St. Patrick's Day falling on a Monday, a long weekend of St. Patrick's Day festivities is at hand in the greater Portland area. Here is a list of some venues and activities celebrating the wearin' of the green in the area. (Some information is courtesy of Citysearch.com.)

• McMenamins Edgefield

2126 N.E. Halsey St., Troutdale. Food, drink, dance and live music abound - some of it in a large heated tent on the grounds, for all ages from Saturday, March 15, through St. Patrick's Day. For a schedule and information visit www.mcmenamins.com/index.php?loc=3 and id=484 or call 503-669-8610.

• Kells Irish Restaurant and Pub - Kells Portland St. Patrick's Day Irish Festival

112 S.W. Second Ave., downtown Portland. The legendary venue holds its 18th annual festival Friday, March 14-Monday, March 17. Family Days features two tents and free admission before 5 p.m. Non-stop entertainment, dance and other activities on tap for all ages. For schedule and information, visit www.kellsirish.com/portland/festival.html or call 503-227-4057.

• The Shamrock Run

This 30th annual fun run March 16 begins in downtown Portland and benefits the Oregon Health and Science University Doernbecher Children's Hospital. Runners choose from 5k, 8k and 15k races, a 3.5-mile fitness walk and a 1k Leprechaun Lap for children. After the race, free beverages, chowder and fruit are available for participants, and the Clan Macleay Pipe Band will play. Registration fee is $19-$29. For information and to register, visit www.shamrockrunportland.com.

• Oregon Zoo

4001 S.W. Canyon Road, exit 72 of Highway 26 west

Celebrating the international Year of the Polar Bear, the Oregon Zoo will offer interactive polar bear exhibits for children. Andrew Eberle, a zoo volunteer who studied polar bears in Churchill, Canada, will talk about his journey and how the bears are adapting to climate change. In an annual St. Patty's tradition, Polar Bears and sea otters will be fed their annual green shamrock ice treats and green toys.

Hours: 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; admission: $6.75-$9.75. For information, visit Oregonzoo.org or call 503-226-1561.

• County Cork

1329 N.E. Fremont St., Portland

Live music beginning at 4 p.m. Monday, as well as through the weekend, and bona fide Irish dishes like fish-and-chips and the MacRueben ($5 cover).

• Dublin Pub

6821 S.W. Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy., Portland

Enjoy the almost 60 beers on tap, Irish stew and song with Darby O'Gill, the Dunn O'Leary Trio and more ($10-$15 cover).

• McFadden's Restaurant and Saloon

107 N.W. Couch St., Portland

Quintessential party pub seduces patrons with expertly drawn Guinness, over-the-top green-themed festivities and live music.

• Rose and Thistle

2314 N.E. Broadway, Portland

Portland's Scottish bar celebrates the Irish holiday with bagpipers, Guinness and corned beef and cabbage.

• Moon and Sixpence British Pub

2014 N.E. 42nd Ave., Portland,

Come for live music Friday night and Saturday all day; don't miss the heated beer garden tent and door prizes ($5-$10 cover).

• Shamrock Bar and Grill

4919 S.E. 82nd Ave., Portland

The luck o' the Irish brings this bar copious amounts of green beer, Irish whiskey, food specials, karaoke and giveaways.

• O'Connor's

7850 S.W. Capitol Hwy., Portland

Tucked in quiet Multnomah Village, this cozy pub offers a laid-back venue to imbibe Irish spirits and eats.