Gary Linehan, The Union Democrat

Murphys Irish Day, an annual event that attracts thousands of people from throughout Northern California, will be presented Saturday by the Murphys Business Association.

The celebration pays tribute to the town's Celtic heritage and is always held on the third Saturday in March in honor of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.

The day will begin with a pancake breakfast from 8 to 10:30 a.m. at the Congregational Church on the corner of Church and Algiers Streets. The price is $6.50 for adults and $4 for children under 6.

The Main Street festivities will start at 10 a.m. and continue until 5 p.m. Admission is free.

Some 100 vendors will offer fine arts and crafts, baked goods and Irish themed souvenirs.

There also will be pony rides and face painting to entertain the young folk. In addition, all the shops on Main Street will be open.

Live entertainment with a decidedly Irish theme will be presented throughout the day on two stages and along Main Street. Bagpipe music by the White Hackle Pipe and Drums will fill the air, as will the strains from Al Lehr and his circus calliope.

The Tommyknocker Cloggers will set feet tapping. Rusty O'Flattery, a 10-foot-tall leprechaun, will again entertain the audience from one end of Main Street to the other.

Among the other performing groups will be Sequoia, Jim Lanier and the Bandoleros, Matt Cullen and Friends, and Jim Bailey's Plan B.

At 11 a.m., the Murphys Irish Day Parade will make its way down Main Street. Helping to create a Celtic atmosphere will be the White Hackle Pipe Band and the Irish Cultural Society of Stanislaus County. Local trumpeter Jay Grimstead will also serenade bystanders.

The Cub Scouts, as is tradition, will be the color guard and lead the parade. Members of the Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Murphys Preschool, and Puzzle Pieces Playschool will be among the other groups representing the young people of the area.

There will be equestrian units including the Tuolumne County Sheriff's Posse and the Peppermint Creek Carriage. Among the other animals taking part will be the canine members of the Sierra West Bernese Mountain Dog Club.

Local organizations participating will include the Native Sons of the Golden West, with their giant California flag, and Soroptimist International of Calaveras County.

Other entries will include Railtown 1897 State Park, Calaveras County Sheriff's Department and the Murphys Fire District. There will also be a leprechaun, or two, in addition to O'Flattery.

Matt and Suzan Cullen, of Gold Country Coffee Roasting fame, will be the grand marshals. Announcers Dave Bowman and Jim Bailey will be stationed along the parade route to describe each entry as it passes.

A drawing for a trip to Ireland for two will be held at 4 p.m.

The winners will enjoy their first night in a pre-booked accommodation in Dublin or Shannon and then spend the next five nights in Irish bed and breakfast inns sprinkled throughout the countryside. Air transportation and a standard shift rental car are included.

Specially created Murphys area vacation prize packages will be awarded to three runners-up.

Free parking will be available at Ironstone Vineyards on Six Mile Road. A free shuttle bus will leave every 20 minutes from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Free parking also will be available at the Black Bart Playhouse on Algiers Streeet around 12:30 p.m. after the parade has cleared. The day's proceeds fund Murphys Business Association activities as well as community projects and enhancements. For more information go to