Jeff Fitzpatrick

The late Jeff Fitzpatrick will be honored with a tribute Saturday at Adventure Brewing South.

Adventure Brewing Co. is raising a pint to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in memory of the late Jeff Fitzpatrick, the area’s first local brewer.

Adventure bought Blue & Gray Brewing Co. in Spotsylvania County and are continuing his tradition of holding a St. Patrick’s Day parade. Adventure’s owners have renamed the event in his honor.

“We’re excited to host the parade this year,” said Stan Johnson, one of Adventure’s owners, in a news release. “The parade is a tradition for the families of Fredericksburg, so we’re glad to have the opportunity to continue that, and to honor Jeff’s legacy in the craft beer scene.”

The 15th annual Jeff Fitzpatrick St. Patrick’s Day Parade festivities will kick off with the annual 0.5K Couch Potato Run fundraiser from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday—the day after St. Paddy’s Day—in the Bowman Center Business Park. Participants are encouraged to dress up and run, walk, skip, jump or even cartwheel from the intersection of Dill Smith Drive and Main Street down five blocks of Main Street to Adventure Brewing South, as Blue & Gray is now called.

The entry fee is $15 for those under the age of 21 and $20 for those 21 and older. It includes a post-race “Kegs and Eggs” breakfast buffet and a donation to local volunteer fire and rescue squads. Those 21 and older also get a free pint glass and one complimentary fill of beer. Tickets are available at squareup.com/store/adventure-brewing-company-south.

The parade itself will begin at noon. It will feature fire trucks from Spotsylvania County Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Management’s Fire Station 11, as well as Muggivan School of Irish Dance students, two classic car groups, community organizations, miniature horses, military motorcycles and local pageant winners.

They’ll proceed down Main Street to A. Smith Bowman Distillery, where an outdoor festival will be held. It will include local small business and nonprofit vendors, live music and entertainment, family-friendly activities and food by the UFO food truck. In addition, Adventure will be pouring a Fredericksburg favorite, Fred Red Ale, along with several other brews from its lineup. It will also be collecting donations for the Fredericksburg Regional Food Bank.

“We’re just continuing working with all the organizations Jeff dealt with,” said Rita Witte, Adventure’s general manager.

Fitzpatrick, who died of cancer last October, got the idea of holding festivities celebrating St. Patrick’s Day because he figured people would want somewhere to drink beer, wear crazy green hats and eat corned beef in honor of Ireland’s patron saint.

He got the necessary permits, roped of the parking lot and invited everyone to come.

“We said ‘Kids eat free,’ and I ought to have known better than to invite a bunch of Irish Catholics to have their kids eat free,” Fitzpatrick, who was Irish Catholic, was quoted as saying in a March 16, 2003, article in The Free Lance–Star.

Turnout was overwhelming: About 300 adults bought tickets to scarf down the traditional St. Paddy’s Day feast of corned beef, cabbage and boiled potatoes. A tradition was born.

“It’s an amazing event,” said Witte. “This is the only St. Patrick’s Day event for the last 15 years, so we’re just trying to keep that alive in Jeff’s memory. He’s done such a great thing for the community.”

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Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407

cjett@freelancestar.com

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