It’s the week before St. Patrick’s Day in Butte. More and more Irish-themed events are popping up on local social media pages, houses around town are decorated with shamrocks and leprechauns, and clothing stores are advertising themselves as the best place to find the perfect St. Paddy’s apparel.
But this year, Butte won’t be the only city celebrating the holiday Mining City-style: A “Butte in Boise” St. Patrick’s Day party is set to kick off on Friday evening at the Boise Centre, a large downtown convention center, bringing the holiday Butte’s known for celebrating best across state lines.
According to Pat Rice, Butte native and executive director of the Boise Centre, he came up with the idea. There are a lot of people from Montana who live in the Treasure Valley, Rice said, and know what the Irish holiday in Butte is like.
“Butte’s different and unique. Next to Chicago, it’s the best St. Patrick’s Day party town in America,” Rice said.
The first Butte-themed St. Paddy’s celebration Rice threw in Boise was a private party for his employees last year. So when the Boise Centre was brainstorming an event they could put on this weekend to coincide with the Big Sky Conference tournament for men’s and women’s basketball, which will be held in the CenturyLink Arena adjacent to the Boise Centre, Rice and his colleagues decided on a public "Butte in Boise" party.
Rice explained that for $25 in advance, or $30 at the door, people can enjoy Irish music and dancing, both Big Sky college basketball and Butte historical documentaries on a few of the Centre’s big screen TVs, and take their photo with one of three Butte-themed backdrops. Rice said there will even be pasties shipped straight from the Mining City and pork-chop sandwiches made using his grandma’s recipe in the party’s dinner buffet line.
“We’re going to put as much Butte stuff in as we can,” Rice said about Friday’s party.
Boise isn’t the only city that puts on Butte-themed St. Paddy’s events. Rice said he knows of a Butte family in Seattle that invites hundreds of people over to their house to celebrate Butte-style, and it’s rumored that other Butte Irish celebrations are held in Denver.
Regardless, Rice said it’s fun for him to show off his roots and hopes the party will become an annual event.
“Even though I don’t live in Butte, it’s where I grew up and it’s fun to share some of its traditions,” Rice said. “These traditions stay with you…people move away but they never really leave it (Butte).”