By: Tammy Curtis, Managing Editor
Some things are just a part of history and for Sidney, it is the green roots of their Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and celebration. Since 1958, one of the smallest towns in Sharp County has been drawing huge crowds from across the state to celebrate their claim to fame, the St. Patrick’s Day festivities. This is the 69th year for the event, that has only had to be cancelled a few times due to Covid and weather. Locals don their green and come out to the small town to enjoy not only St. Patrick’s Day but the impending warmer weather of Spring. While events have come and gone, one thing that has remained a staple is the famous Irish Stew and deserts that crowds rave over. The late Atalie Pounders began the St.Patrick’s Day celebration with ladies from the Extension Home-maker’s Club. Sidney Historian Craig Ogilvie gathered information about the history of the Sidney events in 1991for his history book. In 1958, amid the turmoil of school consolidation, the Sidney Extension Homemakers Club organized the first St. Patrick’s Day Parade. It was a small event, designed to help bind the wounds and pull local people back together again. The Irish celebration was selected to honor the Scotch-Irish settlers who pioneered the Sidney area prior to the Civil War. The next year, a pot-luck Irish stew luncheon was added to the festival, and served in the old Sidney School gymnasium before the parade up Main Street. It was such a small parade in the beginning that someone suggested that the parade go up the street, turn around and pass by again. The idea was such a hit that the parade comes-and-goes even today. When the old gymnasium was razed, the Irish stew luncheon was moved to the com-munity building on Main Street, where it remains today. After a few more successful festivals, the beauty pageants and an arts and crafts show were added to the festivities. The parade also grew to include local and national public officials, plus floats and antique autos/tractors. For decades, Sidney was the only town in Arkansas that celebrated St. Patrick’s Day. One great indicator that the parade is deemed a “can’t miss event” is the fact that many local and state politicians show up in floats and take the stage after the parade to offer their political speeches vying for votes. Bill Clinton even rode in the parade the year he ran for Arkansas Governor. Since, hundreds of politicians have made sure to make an appearance at the well-attended festival. The event is always held on the Saturday prior to St. Patrick’s Day. As the years passed the crowds lingered after the parades and games, food booths, music and other contests were added, varying each year. From 5Ks to Barbecue cookoffs, fun food booths and kiddie games, the green color dominates the day. After the closure of the town’s nursing home, bank and stores, the town size dwindled and during the early 2000s the participation did the same. This was something that was extremely sad to Battles after all the work she and the ladies had put into its establishment over the years, but the Sidney Fire Department and other youth organizations stepped up and have managed to keep the fun event alive. This year is no exception. The Sidney St. Patrick’s Day parade will be held in downtown Sidney on Sat. March 18 at1 p.m. There will be food trucks, vendors, crafts, a potato decorating contest, and barbecue chicken and bingo at 6 p.m. This year Mount Pleasant’s Isabella Love will perform. To learn more about her, be sure to read last week’s feature article on the up-and-coming country music star.