We all are about to celebrate being Irish for a day but really the weekend before is when some fun filled festivities roll out. So Saturday the 11th and the 17th will both have fun events.

Saturday, March 11th will hold festivities from Irish sports to alcohol tasting.

St. Patrick’s Mass: 8 a.m., St. Francis Xavier Church, located at 420 W. Pine St. A traditional Irish Gaelic Mass with Irish music, hymns and readings in the Irish language. A booklet with translations is provided.

St. Patrick’s Day Parade: 11 a.m. lineup; noon departure. The parade will depart from Spruce Street and Higgins Avenue and travel over the bridge to Beckwith Avenue. The grand marshal of the parade is Mark “Macey” McLaverty. Community organizations are encouraged to get involved. Entry forms are available at the Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce.

St. Patrick’s Day Irish whiskey tasting: 2 p.m., Rhino Bar. Kevin Head in sampling some of the finest whiskeys from Ireland’s 3,000-year-old tradition of distillation. The cost per person is $25 and you get to sample eight different beverages.

Carousel rides: 2-4 p.m. Free rides for kids at A Carousel for Missoula. This event is sponsored by the Phil Maloney Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians.

Hurling game: 2:30 p.m., Washington-Grizzly Stadium. The UM Grizzlies hurling team and the Thomas Meaghers will compete at their annual St. Patrick’s Day clash. Organizers say this will be an intense game and should not be missed. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.

St. Patrick’s Day Banquet and Auction: 6-9:30 p.m., Holiday Inn Missoula Downtown. The largest Irish gathering of the year in Missoula culminates the day’s events with a banquet and auction. Proceeds from the event support the Irish Studies program and promote Irish culture in the community. The evening is sponsored by the Friends of Irish Studies. For more information and to buy tickets online, visit http://www.friendsofirishstudies.com.

Irish Man and Woman of the Year: At the banquet and auction, the Irish Man and Woman of the Year will be honored for their contributions to their communities and heritage. This year’s recipients are Larry and Mary White, both strong supporters of all things Irish, who will be recognized specifically for their efforts to promote the traditional Irish game of handball. They are part of a local group working to build outdoor courts in Missoula. People interested in learning more about handball or playing the sport should visit http://www.friendsofirishstudies.com or email Rick Harrington at rickhandball@gmail.com.

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