By Joe Johnson
Bagpipes, Irish flags, shamrocks, and a sea of green travels through downtown Boone on Saturday, March 14, starting at 2 p.m. for the Town of Boone’s annual St. Patrick’s Parade. The parade begins at Poplar Grove Connector and marches east down King Street, ending at Hardin Street. Local businesses, nonprofits, civic organizations, and performers will have a chance to show off their Irish and High Country pride. Parade-goers can expect a whole lot of fun, with festive floats, talented performers, a good bit of candy, and a few surprises.
A leprechaun emcee will be staged in front of the Jones House, and a special panel of guest judges will score entries based upon overall appearance, quality of design or performance, originality, and creativity. Entries receiving the best scores from the judges will find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, as a generous group sponsor has donated over $10,000 in cash prizes; the prize money will be divided amongst the highest-scored entries, including $2,000 for best in show. Sponsorship for the event is collaboration between We Can So You Can, Double Wood Farms, Downtown Boone Development Association, High Country Host, and the Boone TDA.
Registration for the St. Patrick’s Parade is open through Monday, March 2, but only 50 entries will be guaranteed a spot in the parade; entry spots are filling up quickly, with 25 – 30 participants already signed up! Those interested should make sure they sign up as soon as possible using the online registration form at St. Patrick’s Day Parade Registration Form.
Last year’s parade float awards were as follows:
Best in Show: Appalachian Rhythm ($2,000 prize)
First Place: High Country Breast Cancer Foundation, Appalachian Theatre, Mellow Mushroom, the Love Bus/Hardin Park School ($1,000 prize)
Second Place: Appalachian Ambassadors, High Country Guide Service, Kiwanis Club, Sole Impact ($750).
Third Place: Girl Scout Troop #2253, Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture, First Security Insurance, Valle Crucis Gardner’s Club ($500).
Now in its third year, the Boone St. Patrick’s Parade has quickly become one of the High Country’s signature events. “It’s incredible to see how much this event has grown, and we’re grateful for the extraordinary amount of support we have in the community,” says Boone Cultural Resources Director Mark Freed. “We plan to carry on this tradition and add even more fun elements for parade-goers.”
One of those new components this year is a free family-friendly Kids Zone on the Jones House lawn from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., which will include inflatable bounce houses, balloon creations, magic shows, face painting, games, and treats. Guests are also encouraged to hang around downtown throughout the day as area businesses, restaurants, and breweries help celebrate with various discounts, deals, and food and drink specials. Parking is free in downtown metered spaces and lots after 12 p.m. “We’re trying to add some elements to attract even more visitors downtown and to give the kids something fun to do,” said Brad Farthing, Boone Cultural Resources Special Events Coordinator.
St. Patrick’s festivities continue into the evening with the sixth annual Daniel Boone Rail Jam taking place at the snow-covered Daniel Boone Amphitheater at 5 pm. This year’s Rail Jam will be different, with competitors from Appalachian Ski Mountain and Beech Mountain Resort going head-to-head. Tickets for the Rail Jam are available for $5 online at https://danielboonerailjam.com/ or $10 at the door.
Pictures from last year’s parade