What is ShamrockFest? Held every year at the RFK Stadium Festival Grounds (aka the parking lot), it presents an interesting enigma.
If you take your cue from the revelers that attend every year (now 17 editions strong!), then you can easily look around and say it is about having fun with friends and letting go of inhibitions.
It is about dressing up in bright green, with shamrock logos, kilts or skimpy outfits. It is about basking in the waves of sounds, with fiddles, horns, guitars and drums. It is about dancing. It is about loitering with friends and enjoying yourself. It is about helping those said friends stand when they had just a wee bit too much… It is about hoisting a pint and saluting those about to rock. It is many things and more.
2016 was my 4th foray into the odyssey that is ShamrockFest (including three of the last five years).
With three main stages, an electric dance tent, a DJ (in the VIP area) and a stage for dance performances, there was much entertainment to be had. At least 25 bands, artists and DJs took the stage to keep the masses carousing and smiling. (We’ll look at that in Part 2.)
This year, there were a few changes for the good.
They moved the whole festival slightly and repositioned the three main stages. The Gold and Green stages were next to each other, allowing for a rotating set of bands and easy movement between the two. Better for those that didn’t join in the VIP option. The Dewey Beach stage and the Electric Isle tent were at the far end of the grounds, giving a new experience on both sides.
They also completely revamped the VIP section. Last year it was small and in between stages (giving VIPers almost front row access). This year the whole area was sectioned off from the main festival grounds completely. And it was huge. From the outside looking in, I did notice it was very crowded. Giving us non-VIPers space to move in the main grounds. Inside was a DJ revolving and beer booths circling the dozens of picnic tables. I’d like to say what it was like to be in there, but I didn’t make it.
As in previous years, there were games (like cornhole), but they (Red Frog Events, the organizers) also added some fair attractions, including a bouncy slide and rides that make you dizzy. I skipped these, I got plenty dizzy taking in the sights and sounds.
The beer was Guinness, Guinness Blond and Yuengling. The deal: buy three beer tickets at once and get $6 off.
I didn’t try the food this year (was surviving from jet lag and just wasn’t hungry during those hours), but I did have my share of the libations.
Speaking of which, when it comes down to it, the people who come out to this festival are eager to drink and enjoy themselves. There were countless drinking casualties littered around the grounds. Yet no one was left unattended.
As an experience, it is what you want it to be. And for many it seemed, it was exactly what they wanted.
Next up in Part 2! The music at ShamrockFest! #IceIceBaby