Bath cancels annual ‘Blarney Days’ event for 2016

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BATH — A lack of volunteers and funding has caused the city’s Main Street Bath organization to cancel the annual “Blarney Days” Irish culture celebration this year.

Individual activities that have been part of the overarching March event, such as the Shamrock Sprint, will still be held.

Last year’s Blarney Days, which ran five days and concluded on St. Patrick’s Day, featured a parade, “one of the major events that happened out of the Main Street Bath office,” MSB Program Director Jake Korb said in an interview March 3.

“There was a lack of financial contribution from the community, as well as some manpower from that,” he explained. “It turned into a lot for the (MSB) office to do. Just the way the calendar fell, and with people’s interests, it just didn’t seem like something the (MSB Promotions) Committee wanted to do again.”

“There were a lot of considerations and a lot of conversation that went into this decision,” Korb added.

Everything MSB does is based on volunteer participation, he explained, noting the lack of interest in organizing an event in March, months before the major Heritage Days celebration that brings many to Bath and features its own much larger and longer parade.

“Heritage Days is a completely different season for us, and that parade draws crowds of like 20,000,” Korb said, noting that March is not an easy time for people to help sponsor an event.

Blarney Days was formed as a means of promoting business and community activity during what can be a slow time of year, he explained, when the holidays have passed and Mainers are weathering dead-of-winter temperatures.

“We felt it best to leave the opportunity for businesses to host their own events” around St. Patrick’s Day this year, Korb said, but the parade would not be on the schedule this year.

The Shamrock Sprint 5K event returns for the seventh time, on Saturday, March 19. The 9 a.m. event takes place at the Bath United Church of Christ, 798 Washington St. Log onto runsignup.com/Race/ME/Bath/ShamrockSprint5k to register by March 18.

Other events held during Blarney Days helped drive the overall festival, such as Sagadahoc Preservation’s Blarney Ball, which wasn’t held last year and won’t be held this year either, he noted.

“There was a lot of conversation in many organizations about how to continue with that weekend,” Korb added.

It’s the first time since 2008 that Bath won’t have a St. Patrick’s Day parade. The city debuted the event as part of “March Madness” in 2009. The celebration returned the following year under the Blarney Days banner.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.