St. Piran’s Day Rescheduled due to Severe Weather

Tuesday, March 5th, 5:00 ─ 6:30 PM on the Mill Street Plaza

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Entry forms are available a the Greater Grass Valley Chamber/ GVDA and Tess’ Kitchen Store Or Download them here >

St. Piran’s Day Brings Blessings to Dogs

By Gage McKinney
Special to The Union

When calendars turn to March, local dogs begin sniffing for the scent of baking Cornish pasties, anticipating the magical day when pasties fly.

St. Piran, a fifth-century Celtic missionary, is the patron of Cornwall and its miners. On his day In Grass Valley, the blessings extend to dogs.

Grass Valley celebrates St. Piran’s Day – rain or shine – with its annual pasty tossing contest on Saturday, March 2, at 9:30 – 11:00 AM, Mill Street Plaza. The event’s motto: “Everyone’s Cornish Today.”

The event begins with the ringing bell of Town Crier Paul Haas. Then the American and Cornish flags rise as the Grass Valley Male Voice Choir, directed by George Husurak, leads the national anthems.

The mayors of Grass Valley and Nevada City lead off the pasty tossing, competing for the annual Mayors’ Trophy. Then police chiefs and other officials from the two towns compete, and this year, members of the Board of Supervisors. Private citizens can take a turn, too, especially children of all ages.

For a dog, St. Piran’s Day begins with a leash and a few minutes to socialize with other dogs. The excitement builds as the pasties fly and fall, followed by an instance when the leash grows slack so a dog can lunge forward for a taste of broken pasty.

“It’s the liver they love,” said Carol Kinyon, the baker and dog lover who creates the pasty-like treats for canines. The recipe, she revealed, includes ground liver dough with organic kibble stuffing, a treat dogs can’t resist.

“There are more dogs coming every year,” Kinyon said. “They can’t wait until they get some pasty to eat.” For dog owners and others, coffee and snacks will be on sale before and during the event.

baking cornish pasties
cornish pasties
grass valley police joining in
dog and pasties

If you bake pasties (the kind people eat), bring a home-baked pasty for judging in the annual bakeoff. Entry forms are available from the Greater Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce or by calling 530/273-4667 and at Tess’ Kitchen Store. Tess’ will award gift certificates for the “Best Overall” and “Best Traditional” pasty.

St. Piran is to Cornwall what St. Patrick is to Ireland. In fact, he brought Christianity to the Celtic land in the southwest corner of Britain. In legend, he outwitted menacing giants and taught the Cornish to refine tin. The Cornish flag commonly called St. Piran’s flag, a white cross on a black field, flies across Cornwall and often flies in Grass Valley.

The Cornish, once the world’s pre-eminent hard-rock miners, came from their homeland with the know-how to tap the deep veins when gold in quartz was discovered near Grass Valley. The Americans called them “Cousin Jacks,” and Cornish women became “Cousin Jennies.”

At last year’s event, all the dogs were well-behaved, none broke free, and all got a taste of pasty. Even for a creature living in the moment, St. Piran’s is a day to remember.

Gage McKinney is a Cornish bard who lives in Grass Valley. His books include MacBoyle’s Gold.

gold mining genius book cover

Gage McKinney

Gage McKinney volunteers with the GVDA. His latest book is Gold Mining Genius: A Life of George W. Starr, available at The Book Seller, Grass Valley, and Harmony Books, Nevada City. Contact him at