Lexington businesses welcome customers after St. Patrick's Festival cancellation

Irish Business Lexington
Posted at 7:58 PM, Mar 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-15 13:22:02-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Liza Betz opened Failte Irish Shop in 2001. Her store has participated in Lexington's Saint Patrick's Day Festival ever since.

For the first time in nearly two decades, Betz doesn't have a booth in the festival. The City of Lexington announced the festival would be canceled on Wednesday due to COVID-19 concerns.

"It is what it is. Of course we're disappointed they cancelled stuff, but in a way I'm glad that they did," said Betz.

However, the cancellation was unanticipated and Betz had already stocked up for the weekend's rush.

"My shop is literally filled to the roof," Betz said.

Customers enter the store a few at a time, buying European candy and food from Betz. Meanwhile, next door, the seats at McCarthy's Irish Bar fill up.

"I don't think it'll be a busy day," said restaurant owner Peter Kiley. "If it's like a regular Saturday, I'll be quite happy."

McCarthy's Irish Bar canceled a live band scheduled for the day after the St. Patrick's Day event was called off. Kiley said he hopes the COVID-19 concerns come to an end quickly and that business returns full speed.

"I'd just like to try and keep the [employees] working. If we have to close, maybe we'll do painting or something like that. Some maintenance," said Kiley.

Audra Meighan understands the anxiety some people are experiencing as closures and cancellations due to COVID-19 concerns impact business.

"I've been worried for them so that's why we're out today spending some money," said Meighan. "Restaurants and bars is what we've been hitting, just to throw whatever money we can their way."

Meighan said she's looking to support local businesses as much as she can.

"We're taking every precaution we can, but at the same time you have to live your life and other people have to survive. There's a fine balance that we have to figure out."