Photo courtesy of The Artisan Shoppe and Studio. Mike Thompson/Photo

For the fourth year, the St. Patrick’s Day Cultural Festival and Parade will return to downtown Gallipolis. Initiated by Kelsey Kerr and Valerie Thomas, managers of The Artisan Shoppe and Studio and the Gallia County Artisan Market, the event serves as a fundraiser for the non-profit organization, whose mission is to support arts and culture in Gallia County.

Kerr said the idea to organize a St. Patrick’s Day Festival in Gallia County came from growing up in Orlando, Fla., where she learned to Irish dance and participated in the St. Patrick’s Day parade each year.

“Upon moving to Gallipolis, we realized that there wasn’t a parade or any major celebration for St. Patrick’s Day here.  Many areas, especially big cities, are known for and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with parades and/or festivals and we just wanted to bring that celebration and opportunity here, while being able to raise funds for our organization,” said Kerr.

Though their initial focus was on the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, they also wanted to ensure other cultures had the opportunity to be represented and celebrated.

“We are lucky to have such rich Welsh, French, and Native American history in our area and Americans in general have such a wide range of cultural heritage,” said Kerr. “This event provided a perfect opportunity to not only celebrate Irish culture, but all cultures so that everyone feels included and can feel proud of their own unique heritage.  We always feel that it is important to promote inclusivity and provide opportunities to celebrate and promote arts and culture whenever we can.”

While they are still in the planning stages for this year’s event, they do have some new plans in the works.

“We are still in the initial planning stages for the festival and parade this year, so hopefully there are many activities and partnerships yet to be mentioned,” said Kerr. “Jess Thompson and her Rogue Crusade crew are always willing to help us out and we are wanting them to be a major part of the festival each year.  With their help and connections, we are trying to bring more cosplay, larping, steampunk, Shakespeare, and all other creative, artsy, and fantasy elements to this festival.”

Volunteer Seth Argabright also organized the participation of the 7th Ohio Volunteer Company H, who will conduct Civil War reenactment drills throughout the day and, for kids, Leprechuan costume contests and other fun activities are planned.

The Annual St. Patrick’s Day Cultural Festival and Parade will take place in the Gallipolis City Park on March 17, 2018. As in past years, vendors and artisans are welcome to participate and there are sponsorship opportunities available. Parade, vendor and sponsor forms, as well as Little Miss and Mr. Leprechaun Costume contest details, can be viewed on The Artisan Shoppe and Studio’s website. More information will be announced as details are finalized. You can also follow them on social media.