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St. Piran’s pride

Photo for The Union by John Hart
John Hart | The Union

The ninth annual St. Piran’s Day event will again take place in downtown Grass Valley to celebrate the area’s Cornish history and remember St. Piran, the patron saint of Cornish miners.

“It’s a way for us to acknowledge the Cornish heritage of the community and to just kind of celebrate and be silly and have fun,” said Eleanor Kenitzer, the event founder.

The festivities will begin 10 a.m. Saturday in the Grass Valley City Hall parking lot at Main and South Auburn streets. The town crier, Robert Russell, will make a proclamation and the Grass Valley Male Voice Choir will perform as the American and Cornish flags are raised.



“We will sing the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ and ‘Trelawny,’ the Cornish national anthem,” Kenitzer said.

The prevalence of the local Cornish culture derived from the move of residents of Cornwall, in the southern part of England, overseas to work in the mines.




Kenitzer and Gage McKinney, a writer of Cornish culture and history who attends St. Piran’s Day each year from Sunnyvale, both spread awareness of the event and Cornish heritage in America and were deemed Cornish bards by the county of Cornwall.

“We were given that honor and distinction because we try to spread Cornishness in the United States,” Kenitzer said.

A pub night will take place 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. tonight at Gold Rush Burgers on Mill Street to honor the Cornish tradition of singing and drinking, Kenitzer said.

“It’s been said when the Cornish bend their elbow with a beer in their hand, they seem to sing better,” Kenitzer said.

The celebration is the only downtown Grass Valley event that encourages people to bring their dogs, as the pasties used for the toss contest will actually be dog treats made of kibble and liver.

“As we make a mess, the dogs can clean up the parking lot, so it’s a win-win,” Kenitzer said.

A (kibble-free) pasty tasting, judged by a panel, will also take place, where the winner will receive a gift card from Tess’ Kitchen, which sponsored the event.

A Cornish Cream Tea in Wesley Hall will be take place 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Grass Valley United Methodist Church with a requested donation of $15. Tickets are available at Book Seller, Briar Patch, Grass Valley Downtown Association and the Grass Valley United Methodist Church.

“Everybody will be singing and having a good time,” said Kenitzer. “It’s just a reminder of the heritage and what people used to do in this town.”

To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email jterman@theunion.com or call 530-477-4230.


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