County going all out to celebrate St. Pat's Day

Jan. 25—'Tis no blarney — Mercer County's tourist promotion agency is spending $20,000 to boost local St. Patrick's Day events.

"Our board wanted to do something in the offseason to showcase what we offer," Peggy Mazyck, the agency's president and chief executive officer said.

Always held on March 17, this year's St. Patrick's Day falls on a Sunday, which allows for an extended celebration starting, for some, on Friday. Everything Irish, from meals to music, is in the works.

For St. Patrick's Day, VisitMercerCountyPA, the county's tourism promotion agency, will give 200 people $100 in "tourism dollars." The organization has offered similar promotions in the past but this one has a few new twists.

People must sign up for the program on the agency's Facebook page.

It's not as easy as it sounds.

The signup sheet will be posted for only 24 hours at an unknown time before the big weekend, Mazyck said.

"We want people to keep checking our page to see what's happening in our area," she said.

If more than 200 apply, the agency will draw winners names out of a hat. A maximum of three people from the same address can win.

The agency has 20,000 Facebook followers, so a drawing seems likely.

Tourism Bucks work like certificates in $10 and $20 denominations. Since the certificates aren't legal tender no change will be given. In other words, somebody using a $20 certificate for a $15 t-shirt won't get $5 back.

Other conditions include the tourism dollars must be used over the extended weekend at participating businesses, including hotels, restaurants and bars.

"This is a good deal for our participating properties because they redeem the tourism bucks for reimbursement from us," Mazyck said. "They have nothing to lose."

Second annual parade

Building on its inaugural event last year, the Slainte Sharon St. Patrick's Day Parade will be held Saturday, March 16, in downtown Sharon.

Pets and their owners are encouraged to come in costume to participate. The public is asked to bring items, such as gently used bedding/towels, litter and pet food that will be donated to local animal organizations.

The parade starts at 6 p.m. outside Penn State Shenango and finishes at Quaker Steak & Lube.

Blessing of the pets, DJ music and a small vendor area will be outdoors at The Lube with a fireworks show at 7:30 p.m.

Hoisting a pint

Sharon Downtown Initiative's 2nd Annual Shamrock'n Brew Tour is set from noon to 8 p.m. March 16. Stops will be made at local breweries for a drink at each location ending with an Irish dinner at Grove City Country Club.

With a $70 fee last year, the Penn-Northwest Development group filled two buses.

"We're shooting for three buses this year," Kaylee Bender, an Initiative member said.

Other restaurants like The Block and the Apollo Maennerchor Club in Sharon in downtown Sharon have already begun promoting St. Patrick's Day meals with live music.

The harp and fiddle

Those looking to get a wee bit of a head start celebrating the Emerald Isle are in luck. A "Night of Irish Music" festival is set for 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday at the Corinthian Banquet in downtown Sharon.

Hosted by the Ancient Order of Hibernians Division in Sharon, admission is free and the AOH will collect non-perishable food for St. Joseph's Food Pantry.

Musicians, singers, along with the Burke School of Irish Dance in Youngstown will perform. The Corinthian will be selling traditional Irish food and drinks. Also, the Irish Arts Center from Pittsburgh will be selling Irish goods.

On Sunday, harpist Alissa Pesavento will perform traditional Irish movement on the iconic Irish instrument from 11 a.m. to noon at Greenville Public Library, 330 Main St., Greenville. The show is free and appropriate for all ages.