FARMINGTON — The St. Patrick’s Day celebration was in full swing Sunday afternoon at Dugout Bar and Grill, with Irish flags hanging from the ceiling and the bartenders dressed in green while serving the packed house.

The bar opened at its usual time of 11 a.m., despite recently passed legislation that, for the holiday, lifted blue laws against selling liquor between 6 and 9 a.m. on St. Patrick’s Day when it falls on a Sunday.

While bar owners and the Maine Restaurant Association fought for the bill’s passage with strong public statements, Dugout Bar and Grill owner Shaun Riggs said he did not think it was appropriate that Gov. LePage signed the emergency legislation.

Rep. Barry Hobbins, D-Saco, sponsored the bill. LePage signed it Friday despite previously calling it “garbage” and having made a highly publicized vow to veto all bills until the Legislature passes his plan to repay Maine’s hospitals $484 million in Medicaid reimbursement.

Riggs said he doesn’t think it’s appropriate to pass the legislation when the state’s hospital debt still needs to be addressed.

He said he thinks the law will mainly serve businesses in urban areas such as Portland or Bangor.

“But I don’t blame the legislator. He’s got constituents,” Riggs said.

Riggs was working in the kitchen, helping serve the usual full house St. Patrick’s Day brings to the bar. Restaurantgoers dressed in green were enjoying the holiday menu of traditional Irish foods, such as corned beef and cabbage.

Riggs also said he does not want his bar to sell liquor that early in the morning.

“I don’t want to feed people whiskey at 6 a.m. It’s an irresponsible thing to encourage,” he said.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252

[email protected]

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