Chad McGown, right, and his daughter, McKendrey, perform a traditional Irish dance during Steamboat Dance Theatre’s annual performance last week. The pair are a part of a local Irish dance troupe that will be performing across Steamboat today for St. Patrick’s Day.

Photo by John F. Russell

Chad McGown, right, and his daughter, McKendrey, perform a traditional Irish dance during Steamboat Dance Theatre’s annual performance last week. The pair are a part of a local Irish dance troupe that will be performing across Steamboat today for St. Patrick’s Day.

Steamboat Irish dancers to lead ceili dances at Library Hall tonight

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St. Paddy’s Day events

■ Irish Dance ceili — Library Hall at Bud Werner Memorial Library, 5:15 to 6:15 p.m.

Celebrate the St. Patrick’s Day holiday with Steamboat’s own Irish dancers. Enjoy a 15-minute demonstration and then try it on your own during a 45-minute beginner class. All ages. Free. Call 970-879-0240. 13th Street and Lincoln Avenue.

■ Knights of Columbus St. Patrick’s Day Dinner — Holy Name Catholic Church, 5:30 p.m.

Corned beef, cabbage and a festive atmosphere for the Irish holiday. Admission is by donation. Fifth and Oak streets.

■ Corned beef and cabbage supper to support muscular dystrophy — Soroco High School, 6 to 8 p.m.

Enjoy a festive St. Patrick’s Day corned beef and cabbage supper to support the fight against muscular dystrophy. The cost is $10 for adults and $8 for students and seniors. Children ages 4 to 10 are $5, and children 3 and younger eat free.

■ St. Patrick’s Day Torchlight Parade and Fireworks — Base of Steamboat Ski Area, 8 p.m.

Don’t miss the trail of torches lighting up the mountain as members of the Steamboat Ski & Snowboard School parade down.

■ E.O.E. — Sweetwater Grill, 9 p.m.

E.O.E. returns to Steamboat in full form. Winner of six Best of New Orleans awards, E.O.E. will be putting it all out there for a St. Patrick’s Day show. Free. Call 970-879-9500. Eighth and Yampa streets.

■ Trevor Hall — Ghost Ranch Saloon, 9 p.m.

This singer and guitarist is known for his song “Other Ways,” but the soulful lyricist has been making waves in the indie music world, as well. Tickets are $5 in advance and $10 at the door. Call 970-879-9898. 56 Seventh St.

■ Old Town Pickers — Old Town Pub, 9:30 p.m.

Join local bluegrass musicians for an evening of eclectic country folk and high-energy bluegrass. Tickets are $5. Call 970-879-2101. 600 Lincoln Ave.

■ Johnny O. Band — The Tugboat Grill & Pub, 9:30 p.m.

With funky grooves and high-energy jams, Johnny O’s music is captivating and danceable. The band plays many originals as well as some great songs by blues masters of the past. Tickets are $5. Call 970-879-7070. 1860 Ski Time Square Drive.

— Irish dancing is tough on the ankles and exhausting for the legs. It’s full-fledgted cardio, but local Irish dancer Nora Parker said the most exhausting workout is in her cheeks.

“I guess for me, it’s really pretty hard to do a ceili dance and not have the hugest ear-to-ear grin on your face,” said Parker, a Steamboat resident and competitive Irish dancer. “I really love to watch people’s faces when they’re dancing.”

For Parker, who at 48 years old is competing against dancers less than half her age at the second-highest competition level in the world, there is much more to Irish dance than competition.

“It’s a folk art form, which you can do as a 4-year-old or an 80-year-old, or you can take it to the competitive max,” she said. “And it’s not something you have to have a stage to do. You can Irish dance at the library, no problem.”

And that’s exactly what she and about six other local Irish dancers will do today.

Parker and a troupe of Irish dancers, many of whom dance competitively, will perform at The Haven Assisted Living Center and the Doak Walker Care Center today before heading to Library Hall at Bud Werner Memorial Library for a public event at 5:15 p.m.

The library event will feature a 15-minute performance followed by a 45-minute all-levels class on the social dance called ceili (pronounced kay-lee).

“Ceili means party, and these are party dances,” Parker said, comparing the format to square-dancing. “If you keep it in the folk world, I have little 6-year-olds up and dancing. It’s very accessible.”

Jennie Lay, library adult programs coordinator, said the event will be an opportunity for those who missed the Irish dance performance at the Steamboat Dance Theatre performance last week to get a taste of the Irish folk dancing culture.

“I’d like Steamboat to ride the wave of good energy from last week’s Dance Theatre concert and come on down to try a little jig in honor of St. Patrick’s Day,” Lay said. “This is a real community dance, just like you saw in Nora’s ‘Titanic’ choreography on stage.

“In case you missed it, consider yourself lucky because you get a second chance to experience it firsthand at the library.”

After the library event, Parker and friends will go directly to the annual Knights of Columbus community dinner at Holy Name Catholic Church, where guests will have their corned beef and cabbage supplemented by an Irish dancing demonstration at about 6:30 p.m.

Parker said St. Patrick’s Day, while often considered a party holiday, has a strong American history tied to it as well: It’s the ultimate immigrant tale, she said.

“We’re all immigrants,” Parker said. “Unless you’re Native American, you came here from somewhere else. Here in the U.S., (St. Patrick’s Day) is about celebrating the fact you came from the old country. After German ancestry, Irish is the most common ancestry. And they are party people.”

She said in her visits to Ireland, there was no shortage of chances to join in social dances at pubs and gatherings, an attitude she hopes to share at today’s event.

“It’s easy to get Irish dancers to come dance,” she said, “but it’s hard to get them to leave.”

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