Despite an abundance of snow this winter, Heppner is getting ready to roll out the green carpet for this weekend’s Wee Bit O’ Ireland.

“We’ve been hauling away mounds of snow,” said Sheryll Bates, Heppner Chamber of Commerce executive director. “The thing that’s great is a lot of people have stepped up. We have lots of leprechauns that keep this event alive.”

The only canceled activity is the sheep dog trials. Bates said the weather caused concerns about the welfare of the dogs and sheep.

The St. Pat’s Polar Plunge — a fundraiser for Fuzz Ball Animal Rescue — will have a change of venue. With the Willow Creek Dam still frozen, organizers reached out to Morrow County Grain Growers, who are making a tank for the event. People can register Saturday at 10 a.m. for the frigid fun at 11 a.m.

In its 37th year, there’s no admission charge to attend the celebration, however, there is a fee for some of the activities. Also, for a chance to win $100 in the pot o’ gold drawings, be sure to purchase an event collector’s button. They cost $3 and are available at local businesses before and during the celebration. Drawings will be held Saturday at Ceili and intermission during the Tiller’s Folly performance.

The weekend offers a variety of activities. Bates said people have enjoyed the return of the bed races and O’Planky Team Relay Race. The Welly Toss provides an opportunity for prizes and bragging rights as people fling Wellington boots.

Other activities include the Irish Coffee Hour (Saturday, 10-11:30 a.m.). Featuring music, laughter and lots of blarney, host Tom Melton will trade barbs with retired priest Father Gerry Condon, U.S. Rep. Greg Walden and local attorney Bill Kuhn. Also, audience members will be invited to enter the Irish Brogue Contest.

Kids won’t want to miss the Great Green Parade, which rolls through downtown at 1 p.m., or the Bouncin’ Leprechaun Fun Zone from 1:30-5:30 p.m. at the elementary school.

Music also takes center stage on Saturday: Ceili (2-4 p.m., Elks Lodge), talent show (6-7:20 p.m., parish hall), Blue Mountain Old-Time Fiddlers (6:30 p.m., fairgrounds) and Tiller’s Folly (7:30-9:30 p.m., parish hall).

Food choices include the St. Patrick’s Altar Society Irish Dinner (Friday, 4-7 p.m., St. Patrick’s Parish Hall), Saturday O’Brunch (8 a.m. to 1 p.m., St. Patrick’s Senior Center), the Elks Irish Buffet Dinner (Saturday, 6-8 p.m., Elks Lodge) and the Wee Hours O’Benefit Breakfast (Saturday at 9 p.m. to Sunday at 3 a.m., Old Fire Hall).

Also, in what has become a St. Patrick’s weekend tradition, Condon has written and is directing an Irish drama. “The Tale of Two Lives,” which features original music and local actors, will be staged Thursday at 7 p.m. at St. Patrick’s Parish Hall. Admission is free.

And, back for a second year is Murray’s Irish Beer and Wine Fest. It runs Friday from 8 p.m. to midnight at the Morrow County Fairgrounds. The electrifying live DJ show includes music, lights and fog with Dan Burns 3D Productions. There is a $5 cover charge. Also, food and drinks will be available for purchase from Breaking Grounds.

Road Bowling closes out the weekend Sunday at 1 p.m. on Balm Fork Road. Teams of 2-4 people can register at the chamber, the chamber’s website or prior to the event for $20. The top three teams win cash prizes.

For more information, www.heppnerchamber.com or 541-676-5536.

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Contact Community Editor Tammy Malgesini at tmalgesini@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4539

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