Under an almost full moon, the 2014 Saint Patrick’s Day Queen Finals took place at Griff's Thursday night and let me tell you, if you weren’t Irish when you walked into the place, you sure felt Irish when you left. A good time was had by all. Good clean green fun.
Folks of all ages attended, including founder, Michael Griffin, “Griff” himself, who was easy to spot. Sitting at the bar wearing an Irish green sports jacket, he was greeting folks by their first name.
Griff told me that when he first opened the bar in September of 1965, he asked a gal (then singing at the Sand Mountain) to come over and give him some pointers. “She gave me the best advice I ever had,” he said. "You gotta thank people, serve good food and the third thing was, when they’re leaving, you walk them to the door and thank them again. She told me if you treat people good, you may last 50 years.”
Some sang a wee bit. All were asked to perform a little “sashay” as they left the stage. Charming.
He did and Griff’s has. To this day, he still thanks that person, Janis Joplin. “That’s why I put her picture on the wall,” he said, pointing to it.
Realizing that Mr. Griffin was another story all its own, I asked him what time the pageant started. “7:30,” he smiled, “but you know Irish time is never on time.”
Outside, I found the contest underway with the singing of "God Bless America." MC Tom Ryan then led each contestant (eight total) through a series of questions. Some sang a wee bit. All were asked to perform a little “sashay” as they left the stage. Charming.
Midway through the interviews, the Cass-Barrington Academy of Irish Dance came onto the stage with some high jumping, fast moving footwork to that distinctly Irish music. Folks clapped, patted out a little footwork of their own and for a second, I thought of jumpin’ up there myself! Infectious Irish.
Later, after all the interviews were completed, Debra and Donna Cutlett (owners of Griff’s) collected the ballots from the 60 judges and disappeared into a house across the street. While they tallied votes, another group from the O’Maoileidigh School of Dance performed.
Sometime after 10 p.m., the MC reappeared announcing, “This was the closest voting we’ve ever had.” Understandable. All eight were not only great sports they seemed chums. Irish-ism is infectious!
As it turned out, 24-year-old Jane Hornsby won the roses. Second runner up was Maria Miller and first runner up was Lydian Lopez.
But a T-shirt summed up the evening best and certainly with fewer words.
TASTE IT – HEAR IT – LOVE IT – IRISH.