Article: Shamrock the Block Provides Thrills and Spills

Words and Photos by Shannon Minor

It would have been hard for one to miss the immense sea of green filled with a clash of friendly and disheveled people in Shockoe Bottom on Saturday.

March 16 marked the 10-year anniversary of Shamrock the Block, a St. Patrick’s Day celebration featuring bands, food and beer.

Richmonders began their day when the festival started at noon, but the crowd grew as the day continued. The eclectic music, a diverse range from reggae to U2 cover bands, became more upbeat and louder as the day moved on, paralleling the attendees’ states of being.

The majority of the people were happy and polite. A person passing by who might bump into you would apologize with a smile and carry on in high spirits.

Others headed in the opposite direction by becoming belligerent near the end of the festival around 6 p.m. Beer was a major part of the day and it brought out the worst in several members of the crowd. Fights broke out and police were needed to restrain the violent and obviously drunk crowd.

The food was as expected: greasy and good but in a bad way. Most vendors carried typical festival foods like corndogs, cotton candy, funnel cakes and turkey legs. The fried macaroni and cheese was a popular item as it got positive feedback from the crowd. Halligan’s Bar and Grill provided other meals such as dry rubbed ribs, hand pulled barbecue and smoked beef brisket.

The sheer magnitude of green portrayed by festival goers illustrated the hype of holiday spirit. Other entertainment included a sideshow where a man rode a unicycle juggling fire. In attempt to swindle $20 from bystanders, he told the audience, “The more you give, the more I’ll have”, and impressed many with his unusual juggling talent. A mechanical bull also proved to be a highlight of the festival. The combination of determination and humiliation by the participants drew in large crowds and lines.

Although the crowds were overwhelming, Shamrock the Block did turn out to be a fun and entertaining afternoon. The overall atmosphere was great for spending time outside in the sunshine, drinking and enjoying St. Patrick’s Day.

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