By Brad Tramel
Conjure memories of parades and you’ll likely envision a procession of floats, cars, and festive people lining entire streets, wrapping around corners, and continuing far out of sight. Two local Irish-themed pubs shatter these preconceived notions every March.
Brigid’s Pub and Keg n’ Cork co-sponsor the so-called World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade on the international holiday that broadly celebrates the Irish heritage and culture. The parade runs barely half a block—78 paces, to be exact—from Keg to Brigid’s.
Situated across from one another on Beltrami Avenue, these pubs seem perpetually engaged in a friendly rivalry. Established in 1974, Keg brags that it was the first Irish pub in Bemidji (a large plaque out front reminds passersby), while loyal patrons at Brigid’s embrace second place at popular weekly events: competitive trivia, regular live music, and open-mic night.
Bemidji’s Irish pubs compete on the shortest-parade front with at least three other cities: Hopkins, MN; Conklin, MI; and Hot Springs, AK. Compared to our local parade’s 78 paces, the latter boasts of one only 98 feet long.
Competitive Bemidjiites might want to pass on the pace-to-foot conversion and instead gather their green garments for what has nevertheless become a local tradition.