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Lame of the Irish

Utah ranked one of the ‘least rowdy’ during St. Patrick’s Day.


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St. Patrick’s Day is coming up—in case you forgot, which you probably did, judging by a list recently published on ranking Utah as one of the “lamest” during the holiday.

The Rowdiest States for St. Patrick’s Day is largely based on the number of local events and traditions, and has the Beehive State third to last, followed by Oklahoma and Alaska.

If you’re thinking, “But what about the annual parade downtown?” here’s some perspective: According to the list, New York has 37 of those. Utah has only one.

Presumably, there are several factors at play. But the hardest one to ignore is the state’s strict liquor laws, given that drinking is a prominent aspect of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and the only other state with similar alcohol regulations is one of the two other states following Utah on the rowdy-meter.

However, things seem to be looking up for Oklahoma. For the Beehive, on the other hand, not so much. That’s if the recent legislative session is any indication.

This week, several bills amending Utah liquor laws passed through the Legislature and are on their way to Gov. Gary Herbert to be signed or vetoed (but probably signed). Among the changes is a proposed lower DUI limit—.05 percent BAC—which will make Utah the one and only state under .08.

Others include higher markups on wine and spirits (though Utah already has some of the highest), amendments to the infamous Zion Curtain law, stricter liquor licensing requirements and labeling that more clearly differentiates alcoholic beverages that might otherwise be confused for soda in grocery stores.

Most of these changes have a positive aspect to them—as they promote safety and some would help fund educational programs—however, they’ve widely been criticized as steering away visitors and newcomers, and putting Utah’s nightlife scene in a negative light.

This all begs the question, will Utah ever become a destination for tourists looking to get away for a fun holiday weekend?

Cherish Erekson, general manager and bartender at Salt Lake City’s popular Irish watering hole Piper Down Pub, isn’t worried about it, and says the pending new liquor laws are unlikely to affect their scene. In the 12 years she’s worked there, she says their annual St. Paddy’s bash turnout has only grown. Last year, it was around 3,000—and these aren’t regulars, she says, but new customers coming from all over the place.

As for the state’s poor ranking on St. Patrick’s Day festivities, Erekson says, “That’s just not my experience. We have a huge party every year, and it’s a lot of fun.”

Lame or not, it is what it is—at least for now. There’s still plenty you can do to celebrate the luck of the Irish sober or with a bellyful of green beer. We might not be the rowdiest—or even remotely close to it—but offered this bit of reassurance:

“If Utah’s world class ski resorts, incredible hiking and extreme sports aren’t enough excitement for those who live there, they can look forward to the Salt Lake City St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Thanks to the Hibernian Society of Utah, the parade is packed with live Irish music, kilt-wearing bagpipers, color guards and Celtic heritage.”