An Irish festival

Tysin Senestraro started booking Irish musicians in November to play his St. Patrick's Day Festival this weekend at Paddy Brannan's Irish Pub. The pub owner wanted to be sure he had the valley's best Irish and Celtic performers for the new, all-day event.

Senestraro and his friend — and a regular at Paddy's — Marsa Morse have brewed some ideas over the past couple of years about how to include the community in an annual Irish event.

"We want to stick to tradition and make it an Irish fair of sorts," Morse says.

"It's the only Irish festival in Southern Oregon," Senestraro adds.

In the past, Paddy's has extended business onto its street with a beer garden for St. Patrick's Day. This year, Senestraro and Morse have a family-friendly event in mind that will include musicians playing indoors and on the street. The two worked with the city of Ashland to close Second Street to traffic from North Main Street to Enders Alley for the event.

The party starts at noon and goes until 6 p.m. Sunday, March 17, at Paddy Brannan's, 23 S. Second St. Ashland. Tickets cost $5 in advance and may be purchased at the pub; tickets will cost $10 the day of the festivities. Ages 12 and younger get in free.

On Second Street, look for various vendors, face painting, Mickey the Balloonman — making custom balloon sculptures — wandering magicians, raffles, an art demonstration by painter Alex Adsitt and a Molly Malone impersonator with a cart full of Irish swag.

"We'll have the best Irish music here at Paddy's," Senestraro says, "because the musicians are always here. This is their home."

Throughout the day, there will be live music by Kevin Carr on bagpipes, Daniel Carr on guitar, mandolin and tenor banjo; Richard Johnson on mandolin, guitar and bodhran; Patricia O'Scannell on pennywhistle and guitar; Morgan O'Shaughnessey on fiddle and cello; Adsitt, aka The Nevada Kid, on acoustic guitar, harmonica and diatonic button accordion; Sean Connor on fiddle; and singer and guitarist Jim Finnegan.

Folk trio Behind the Woodshed will be featured on Second Street, outside the pub.

Music isn't all the festivities have to offer. Look for Irish eats such as corned beef and cabbage, along with food and drink specials. The Winchester Inn's Alchemy Restaurant and Bar will serve wine.

Senestraro and Morse founded their own event company called Ceili Rogues to coordinate the festival and hope to expand in the future.

"We'd like the opportunity to plan other festivals," Morse says.

"Not just ... bar events," Senestraro says.

The two already are looking at acts for next year's Irish festival, including a Portland-based Irish dance troupe.

Proceeds from raffles held at the event will benefit University Gone Hollywood Productions, a nonprofit that promotes student films through online competitions as well as the first UGH student film festival planned for August in Ashland.

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