The Rocky Mountain St. Patrick's Oyster Fry Day Parade
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Ever had a day when you can't make up your mind wether to go nuts or be Irish? Well, if that happens around the middle of March, Virginia City has just the right event for you. The one where St. Patrick meets Rocky Mountain Oysters.

Rocky Mountain Oysters - a.k.a. Prairie Oysters, Calf Fries (if taken from young animals), Cowboy Caviar, Montana Tendergroins, Dusted Nuts, Bull Fries, Swinging Beef, Criadillas or Huevos del Toro - are bull testicles that have become a novelty dish in cattle ranching parts of the American and Canadian West. They are used in a large variety of recipes, usually fried either in a pan, wok or a deep frier, and served at festivals and county fairs, as well as at Coors Field during Colorado Rockies baseball games.

St. Patrick never knew that. Born in Britain in the late fourth century, he only ventured as far west as Ireland. First as a young man, when he was captured and held as a slave on the Emerald Isle for six years, and again when he returned as a catholic bishop to christianize Ireland, a project for which he became the most recognized of Ireland's three patron saints. The day of his death, March 17th, is celebrated


worldwide by all who are Irish, either on probation or permanent.

Incompatible as the two may seem, there is a link. During his tenure as a slave, Patrick tended his master's cattle. That's enough common ground to fuse a Rocky Mountain Oyster Fry with St. Patrick's Day, at least in Virginia City.

As if that weren't interesting enough already, the organizer - NV Shows - set up the event as a competition. Each booth is supplied with 50 pounds of testicles, and they can do with them whatever they please, as long as it's fit for human consumption. Prizes are offered in four categories, best overall taste, best booth, best presentation and most creative dish. A dozen contestants use recipes from straight onto the grill to concealed in pockets of dough, with sauteed, paella, teriyaki and breaded being some of the variations in between.

To taste the creations, visitors buy tickets at the organizer's stand and trade them for samples at the booths. That way they are able to quickly sample the dishes of all contestants without having to handle cash and change.

However, the competition is not decided by popular vote, but by a panel of judges who visit the booths with a checklist of criteria and later taste samples in the ballroom of the Delta Saloon.

Everybody knows that green is the dominating color on St. Patrick's Day. Consequently, the eggs and ham offered at Anna Green's booth are, well, green. And the environment is decorated to match. Green shamrocks are painted onto the boardwalk in front of the stores, and the centerline on C-Street has been hued to green.

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