OSLO, Minn. – For Corey Jamieson there’s no substitute for St. Patrick’s Day.
That illustrates Jamieson’s fondness for the day that celebrates his Irish heritage, as well as his opinion that his Oslo bar should honor the saint on March 17, no matter where that date falls in the week. It means that this year, though St. Patrick’s Day is on a Wednesday, Jamieson’s on Main will host its annual celebration that day rather than move it to a weekend when more people likely would attend.
“It’s not St. Paddy’s Day on March 19 or March 14,” Jamieson said.
The tradition of celebrating the day on March 17 began when he was a child. “My parents always made it known St. Patrick’s Day was a pretty big thing,” he said.
Nine years ago, he and the previous owner of the bar decided to celebrate March 17 by hosting a party and wearing kilts. About 40 men and women ordered kilts from a Stillwater, Minn., business, and wore them at the party. He continued the kilt-wearing tradition when he purchased the bar in 2017.
“There are still 10, 12, 14, of us who do it every year,” Jamieson said. He tops his green plaid quilt with a shirt bearing the name of Guinness, a famous brewery in Dublin, and invites customers to dance an Irish jig during the celebration.
Besides kilt-wearing, the St. Patrick’s Day celebration at Jamieson’s on Main includes Irish tunes playing on the jukebox, green beer (free for kilt-wearers) pistachio cake and Irish stew. Jamieson makes a big roaster full of the stew, made up of potatoes, carrots, beef and beer.
“I have it done by noon so it has all afternoon to meld,” he said.
Jamieson expects about 40 people will attend the St. Patrick’s Day party this year, fewer than if it was on a weekend but higher than last year.
In 2020, Jamieson’s on Main, like other bars and restaurants across Minnesota, were required by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz to shut down at 5 p.m. March 17 to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Jamieson moved up the hours of his 2020 St. Patrick’s Day celebration to noon so he could share the Irish stew and green beer before the closure, which was expected to last for 10 days.
That closure – which was extended for a couple of months – and similar orders that Walz instituted in 2020 resulted in a financial hit to Jamieson’s on Main.
“It’s been horrible,” Jamieson said. “We were just doing take-out and off sale, and our (traditional) main source of income is on-sale.”
Business has improved during the past few months, but still isn’t back to pre-pandemic levels, he said. Minnesota bars are required to close at 11 p.m., while North Dakota bars can be open until 2 a.m.
“It’s still not great when everything across the (Red River) is open,” Jamieson said.
He’s counting on business at Jamieson’s on Main to pick up as restrictions are lifted in Minnesota.
“Sure hope that things get back to normal,” he said.
The St. Patrick’s Day celebration at Jamieson’s on Main is a way to do that, both for himself and for his hometown. He says without events like this, there might not be many small towns left.
Meanwhile, the Irish people are known for being happy and having a good time, and that's one of the reasons Jamieson is proud to salute his Irish ancestry on March 17.
“Because of my Irish heritage, you've got to celebrate,” he said with a smile.