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St. Patrick’s Day at The Wooden Match

It’s a great day for the Irish - make that a great weekend if you celebrated St. Patrick’s Day at The Wooden Match, which hosted a block party March 15-17 with live music, food and beer trucks, games, cigars and outdoor bars - and that’s no blarney.

“We’re happy to work in tandem with the City of Bethlehem to support local, small businesses - food trucks and merchant vendors - and raise awareness of good causes,” said The Wooden Match general manager Andy Calderon.

“It’s always about supporting local, small businesses,” Calderon said.

Marine Corps Veteran Chris Yarnell and his wife Cadence, founders of Battle Borne, very much appreciate the support Battle Borne has received from The Wooden Match.

Battle Borne, established in 2018, is a collaborative partnership providing peer-driven support services to veterans and individuals. The couple presented a plaque of appreciation to Calderon and The Wooden Match staffers Glennie and Rick Racz, who is also a veteran.

“We’re forever grateful for the support from The Wooden Match,” Chris Yarnell said.

The Wooden Match, through the support of Tito’s America, has donated to Battle Borne during Musikfest.

“We’re very supportive of Chris’ cause,” Calderon said, noting there are a number of military veterans on The Wooden Match’s staff. “We’re always willing to help with anything we can do.”

Battle Borne, a nonprofit organization in the Lehigh Valley, also sells merchandise at The Wooden Match at events such as The St. Patrick’s Day Weekend Block Party. “All proceeds go to our mission for free programs for veterans and their families,” Chris Yarnell, who served in the Marines 1994-1996, said.

“We serve five counties with resources and programs,” Yarnell said.

“We’re getting veterans out in the community, giving them a sense of purpose,” Yarnell said. For example, Battle Borne purchased a 2022 van to transport veterans to and from doctor’s appointments - or any type of appointment - and to go grocery shopping.

Services include a Veteran Resource Center for Drop-In Services, case management services, life skills programming, and sober recreational activities and community events.

Why the name Battle Borne? “Because everyone is facing a battle, if they talk about it nor not, even civilians,” Yarnell said. The name is a reminder to “stay in the battle.”

Yarnell was recently featured WFMZ-TV Channel 69 as the recipient of the American Red Cross Hero award.

For information on Battle Borne visit wearebattleborne.com/.

Chrissy Maag, owner of Bethlum Shop, was on hand with Bethlum T-shirts festooned with shamrocks.

Maag said she began making Bethlum - a nod to how many people pronounce the city’s name - t- shirts “as a joke for Christmas gifts.”

Then she gave some to George Wacker, owner of Lehigh Valley with Love Media, to give out at Musikfest as prizes. Wacker snapped a shot of Bethlehem resident Rob Rivera wearing a shirt during the fest, posted it to social media, “and it went viral as the Rob Rivera tank top,” Maag said.

“A lot of people tell me their grandfather or aunt says “Bethlum,” Maag said. “I’ve sent them to 32 different states - it’s everyone’s touch of home.”

Maag sells items such as T-shirts, hoodies, knit hats and coffee mugs from her Etsy shopetsy.com/shop/Bethlumshop as well as setting up at events like Musikfest and Celtic Classic at The Wooden Match and pop-ups in stores. She created the T-shirts decorated with shamrocks specifically for St. Patrick’s Day and Celtic Classic.

Lori Ann Cawley and her brother John Cawley were serving up tacos and much more with their staff at the Taco Town food truck.

“We do a lot of events at The Wooden Match,” Lori Ann Cawley said. The Cawley family owns Taco Town, which has two main locations on Airport Road and Lehigh Street in Allentown and five food trucks. They also cater corporate and private events and weddings. For more information visitfacebook.com/tacotowntruckmexican/.

A festive feeling was definitely in the unusually warm mid-March air throughout the block party.

“We’re just relaxing and hanging out with the fur babies,” Amanda Pedraza said. Pedraza and Eric Romberger, both of Allentown, were enjoying the sunshine, food and music with Diesel, a Beagle/German shepherd mix, and Remi, a Miniature Pinscher.

Kris Beutler and Jules Conrad, staff members at The Wooden Match, were there to check IDs and soak up the jovial mood.

“It’s always fun - good music, food and drinks,” Conrad said. “It’s a great atmosphere, it’s a fun time,” Beutler said.

Those feting the wearin’o’ the green could nosh on tasty fare from food trucks from Taco Town, Batch Microcreamery and Slide On By, and visit the Jameson Irish whiskey and Guinness tents. Vendors included Battle Borne and Bethlum Shop.

Musical artists on tap included DJ Jamal Knight, DJ Joonyer, DJ Fax Machine, DJ Dizzy Mop, At The Apollo and The Wonton Soups.

Press photos by Tami Quigley Diesel, a beagle-German shepherd mix, and Remi, a Miniature Pinscher, have the luck o' the Irish receiving treats from Amanda Pedraza as she and Eric Romberger, both of Allentown, enjoy the first day of the three-day St. Patrick's Day Weekend Block Party March 15-17 at The Wooden Match.
Guests of all ages enjoy the St. Patrick's Day Weekend Block Party March 15 at The Wooden Match at 61 W. Lehigh St.
Marine Corps Veteran Chris Yarnell and his wife Cadence, founders of Battle Borne, left, present a plaque of appreciation to, from left, The Wooden Match staffers Glennie Racz; Andrew Calderon, general manager; and Rick Racz, also a veteran. The plaque was given to The Wooden Match “In grateful appreciation for your continuing support of our veteran's community. Thank you for being a member of Team Battle Borne.” Battle Borne provides free programs for veterans and their families.
4) A sampling of the Bethlum Shop t-shirts available for purchase.
Ready to serve up tasty fare such as tacos, burritos and quesadillas at Taco Town food truck are, from left, front, Rebecca Garcia, Jenny Morales and Lori Ann Cawley; back, John Cawley and Anna Martin. Taco Town is family owned by the Cawley family.
DJ Dizzy Mop keeps the music rolling.