SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) today celebrated the culture and traditions of the Emerald Isle during Irish-American Heritage Day at Saratoga Race Course.
The day-long festivities featured Irish music, dance, entertainment and food. Fans were encouraged to celebrate by wearing green and decorating their backyard picnic tables with Irish-themed décor.
The New York Racing Association welcomed Patricia Ward Kelly, wife of renowned actor, dancer and choreographer Gene Kelly, who was of Irish descent and best known for his roles in the classic films “Singin’ in the Rain” and “An American in Paris”. Ward Kelly presented the trophy for the day’s fifth race, named “Saratoga Salutes Hollywood Legend Gene Kelly”.
“It is such a great opportunity to be here in this historic place to celebrate Gene and his Irish heritage,” said Ward Kelly. “I would come back anytime.”
Ward Kelly also appeared at the Irish American Heritage Museum exhibit at the Saratoga Pavilion throughout the afternoon to discuss the talents and Irish lineage of her late husband.
Traditional Irish bagpipers from the Scotia-Glenville Pipe Band and step dancers from The Boland School of Irish Dance greeted guests at the grandstand and clubhouse entrances. Dancers with The Boland School of Irish Dance performed trackside following the day’s third race.
Performances from An Clar School of Irish Dance, Irish band Blame Arthur Guinness, The Boland School of Irish Dance, Capital District Irish American Association Set Dancers, local Irish musician Kevin McKrell, and the Scotia-Glenville Pipe Band took place at the Pavilion and bandstand throughout the day.
A number of chefs from the greater Capital Region conducted cooking demonstrations of classic Irish dishes inside the Saratoga Pavilion during the afternoon, including Traditional Irish Soda Bread from Chef Harold Qualters of the Irish American Heritage Museum; Chocolate Orange Guinness Cake from Chef and Questar III Culinary Educator Peter Desmond; Braised Corned Beef with Guinness Mustard from Wayside Country Inn Chef and Owner Sean McCarthy; and Apple Parsnip Irish Cheddar Soup from Fáilte Hospitality Consulting Chef Michael Galbraith.
Acclaimed exhibits highlighting Irish culture, traditions and history were on display at the Pavilion throughout the day. Participating organizations and individuals included the Irish American Heritage Museum, Capital District Irish American Association, Kerry Cattle Association, Kate Mullany House, Ancient Order of Hibernians, Albany Rebels Gaelic Football and artwork from Kevin McKrell.
The 2015 summer meet at Saratoga Race Course continues through Labor Day, Monday, September 7. For more information about Saratoga Race Course, visit www.nyra.com or call (518) 584-6200.