This past Saturday, September 24th, the Celtic Classic was happening just over the river, on the north side. As I have traditionally attended this event each year the past three years, I planned on this year being no different. Despite going in the past, this year was going to be different, and not only because I was of legal drinking age. After a packed morning of casual mocos at a friend’s house and going to the tailgates for a burger and beer, I was ready to start my trek across bethlehem to the north side.Two of my housemates and I started off on our trek from our residence on first terrace, eager to explore the town on our way down. Having just attended mocos and tailgates, I was dress more vicariously, wearing a retro basketball jersey, stylish bright blue pajama pantis I had picked up in Africa earlier in the year, and a red bandana strapped to my left bicep. James and Pants (short for Pantelis) started telling me about a spot they had traversed earlier in the week- a new brewery and bar on the south side called Bonn Place Brewing Company. Located on Taylor Street, right across from C-Town, it is a newly founded enterprise that brews a multitude of different beers. I had the pleasure of talking with the founder, Sam, who bought the building two years ago with his wife. Two actors who had worked in all 50 states, they fell in love with South Bethlehem while performing at the Steel Stacks, and decided to live in town. They are big patrons of the community, and locally source as many of their ingredients as possible, including using coffee from Monocacy Coffee Co., a local coffee shop in the process of opening, for a delicious coffee infused pale ale. I had one of their finest stouts, and could not be more pleased with the beer or the complementary peanuts they were kind enough to provide. Although I was somehow not in the right state of mind to snap a picture of the indoors during this impromptu stop, I cannot stress how tastefully the interior of the building was decorated. I can say that I will be happily coming back to this hidden gem many more times throughout the semester. I also highly recommend following them on twitter @bonnbrewing for on the fly deals they occasionally put up!
After feeling satisfied with our beer and nuts, we set out to complete the rest of our trek to the north side. A short trek to the new street bridge was easy enough, and not soon after we reached one side, we landed at the other. We could hear the music blaring ever louder as we approached, until we had the festival in full view. And what a view! Thousands of people surrounded us, almost exclusively wearing the traditional color of the Irish, while we heard wonderful Irish music resonating wherever we were positioned. We met up with a larger crowd on arrival, composed mostly of recent graduates, who with which we had attended the festival in previous years. As we made our way through the event, we began to understand the lay of the land. At the beginning, there was a many piece band playing in unison, with the most noteworthy sound being the wheezing bagpipes. Moving up, there were shops adorning the right side of the walkway, stretching thousands of feet to the bridge above, then past that. On the left side, before the river approached, was the main attraction; the feats of strength. The first event happening while we were there was the hay bale toss. Burly Irish men would take a pitchfork, spear their bale, and toss it with a motion not unlike a shot put twirl above an elevated height marker. During our time present, we saw them tossed over thirty feet! That’s higher than three basketball hoops! Not soon after, we headed to a ticket window so we could get the event tickets to buy food and drink. I purchased ten tickets, with which I bought one cheap Miller Lite and one traditional Irish pretzel dog. The pretzel dog was certainly tastier than the Miller. Not soon after, I ran into my wonderful entrepreneurship professor, Professor White. We had a nice chat, took a selfie, then she appropriately insulted me on my beer choice. Oddly enough, shortly before we left, there was a wedding ceremony in the space where the hay bale toss had just occurred. A nice romantic event, though I am still not sure why they chose to have it during the Celtic Classic.
Not long after, Pants, James, and I decided our time to depart was upon us. After crossing the New St. bridge, we decided to stop by Sotto Santi’s for a short pit stop before making our trek up the mountain. A five dollar cheesesteak, two dollar pint, and spirited conversation with our lovely server were just what we needed to fuel the rest of our walk. We all proceeded to nap when we reached our destination, a very full afternoon behind us. I would heartily recommend it to any person within driving distance of Bethlehem, as there is much fun to be had for people of all ages. I look forward to coming back next year, so long as it is feasible. Celtic Classic has been great to me these past four years, and I would hate for another event to get in the way of it. Visit http://www.celticfest.org/ or ask any enthusiastic patrons of years past to find additional information on the Celtic Classic. For information on Bonn Place Brewing visit http://www.bonnbrewing.com/ or visit their location at 310-14 Taylor Street, Bethlehem Pennsylvania.