The flavor of earlier times lives on in the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebrations held in Deadwood, South Dakota. The event has grown from a hardy group of dedicated of partiers in this Black Hills town who kept the Irish Spirit alive to an annual March event for the Old West gambling town.
The Irish heart of this community celebrates the 31st year of this event in Deadwood with two parades, a Pub Crawl, and special Irish music to put everyone in the mood for shamrocks and leprechauns. The event once centered around a now closed bar called Durty Nellys opened by Bill Walsh 1980. I remember folks gathered at this Deadwood pub drinking green beer and enjoying a variety of entertainment on the Irish holiday in years past. Walsh was one of the business owners who helped revitalize Deadwood and bring back gambling over twenty years ago. The success of these efforts laid the groundwork for events like this which has grown from a small hometown experience to a full blown parade with floats and Irish musicians in recent years.
The event this year features a parade Thursday March 17 at 5 pm with traditional pipes and drum music. The open container law is suspended that evening along a section of Main Street from the Silverado Casino to the Masonic Temple. Saturday March 19th has more celebrating with a Pub Crawl and another parade at 7 pm. There will be music and entertainment that evening. Check the Deadwood Chamber of Commerce website at http://www.deadwood.org/DeadwoodEvents/StPatricksDayWeekend/.
Deadwood, founded in 1876, is a National Historic Landmark and a major tourism destination in Western South Dakota’s Black Hills. Gold mining and timber industry kept this town thriving in earlier times. Today it is restored to the glory of its earlier days and attracts around two million visitors each year. More than 80 casinos are located in the town where Wild Bill Hickok was shot and is buried next to Calamity Jane at Deadwood’s Mt. Moriah Cemetery.
Traveling to Deadwood is easy from Interstate 90. From the West travelers take Exit 17 outside Spearfish and follow Highway 85. Coming from the East taking Highway 14A at Sturgis will bring them to Deadwood. Parking is available in either the covered parking lot downtown or at city lots where the Deadwood Trolley will take them to the St. Patrick’s Day festivities. There is a small fee for parking and riding the trolley.
Celebrations like the St. Patrick’s Day events are offered throughout the year and more information can be found at http://www.southdakota.com/deadwood/69. Many of the events are deeply rooted in the history of the community and its culture, helping visitors connect to the rich history of the region.