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Annual Irish Stew Cook-Off to Happen On St. Paddy’s Day in Valley Center

Everyone dresses up in green with silly hats and costumes.

Each year Kathleen McKewan, founder of the Irish Stew Cook Off, puts on this wildly popular event at St. Stephen’s Hall in Valley Center. When it happens again on March 14, 5:30–8 p.m., it will be the 19th year for Mrs. McKewan, who started organizing the event almost as soon as she moved to Valley Center. Cost to attend is $6 per person.

Kathleen had previously successfully participated in Irish stew cook-offs as a girl and thought that it would be fun to bring the blarney, fun and high-energy of such an event to Valley Center. It has remained one of the town’s most popular events ever since.

Nobody really knows what Irish stew actually would taste like if you made it (or if you’d even want to eat it), and so none of the contestants actually try to replicate any actual Irish stew recipes. One year a group actually won the first prize after they went out and bought a bunch of cans of Dinty Moore beer stew.

The competition is limited to 18 cooks. There is competition for individuals and businesses and for clubs. Everyone dresses up in green with silly hats and costumes. The judges, who are usually winners from last year, go around to each of the tables and expect to collect “bribes,” which can often be very nice items. For example, the local Sheriff’s commander might provide “get out of jail free” cards, while local bankers might offer “free mortgages.”

The evening this year will again include Donna O’ Means Irish School of dancers, who will perform for the delight of the audience.

For the first time, the event will also include the Little Miss Irish Lass and Little Leprechaun contest for kids.

The Knights of Columbus will host the Irish Pub.

See you there!

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