St. Patrick’s Day is coming up, and the people of Urbana are ready to celebrate.
For people who are familiar with Urbana, the fact that its residents highly value the arts and culture is no secret. Urbana has a rich art scene and celebrates anything and everything happening in the community and in the world, and St. Patrick’s Day is no exception.
The celebration kicks off on Saturday, March 16 at 10 a.m. with a performance from Port Mor as a part of Market IN the Square, which takes place every Saturday at the Lincoln Square Mall and features a performance the first Saturday of each month from various local artists of diverse genres.
“In the past year alone, we’ve featured jazz, folk, neo-soul, street choir music and more,” said Rachel Storm, the Urbana Public Arts Coordinator. “Our music scene in Urbana is booming, and (the amount of) shows continue to grow as new venues and acts are born in the city.”
In this St. Patrick’s Day-themed Market IN the Square, Port Mor will be performing Irish traditional music 10-11 a.m. Jake Schumacher, who plays accordion, has been leading Port Mor since 1996, and the band’s lineup has varied since then. Currently, Schumacher plays with David Glenn on concertina and bones, Dean Karres on percussion, whistle and vocals and Tracey Mitchell on tenor banjo and occasionally the mandola.
Schumacher himself is a regular customer and big supporter of Market IN the Square and feels that St. Patrick’s Day weekend “is an appropriate time to try to expose people to Irish traditional music.”
For those who aren’t familiar with Irish traditional music, Schumacher says to expect traditional Irish jigs, along with reels, marches, hornpipes and polkas. Though Schumacher tends to listen to older traditional Irish musicians from the ’40s and ’70s, many of his bandmates listen to what would be considered current Irish traditional music.
“There are tons of releases coming out every day of young people playing Irish music,” Schumacher said. “It’s an extremely vital art form at the moment.”
Schumacher also says Irish traditional music speaks to human emotions and brings people together.
“It’s music for the soul,” he says. “It makes you dance. It makes you happy. It makes you sad. It runs the whole gamut of human emotions, and it’s not made by machines. It’s not made by artificial intelligence. It’s made by humans and it speaks to the human condition in all its wonderful forms.”
For those who can’t make it to Port Mor’s performance but still want to enjoy Irish traditional music, Schumacher suggests visiting the Champaign’s Blind Pig on Wednesdays 8-10 p.m., where he and his bandmates perform regularly.
After Port Mor’s performance, visitors can stay to enjoy the Shamrock Dance Academy’s Irish dance performance from 11 a.m. until noon. The St. Patrick’s Day events continue through the weekend, and on St. Patrick’s Day (March 17), The Urbana Business Association will host the “World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade” in partnership with Rewind 92.5, Sipyard, Riggs, the I.D.E.A. Store, and The City of Urbana.
“This will be the third year we’re doing it, and the parade should be better than ever,” said Warren Thomas, marketing and events manager of the Urbana Business Association.
The parade, featuring participants from all of the community, starts at 2:45 p.m. and is free to attend.. Visitors are also welcome to attend the pre-party at Sipyard at 1 p.m., where they can purchase food from the Piato to Go food truck or a Riggs beer at Sipyard. Kids can visit the kid’s station, where they can decorate their own cardboard floats to wear in the parade.
“It’s an exciting community event that is unique to Urbana,” Thomas said. “It’s something you can build your weekend around.”