Around Town: ShamrockFest 2016 @ RFK Stadium Festival Grounds — 3/12/16 (Part 1)

ShamrockFest 2016ShamrockFest goes green

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).

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Music Park: ShamrockFest @ RFK Stadium Festival Grounds — 3/21/15

gaelic-stormGaelic Storm

It is clear, after attending the 2015 edition of ShamrockFest, that I need to get myself to Galway, Ireland.

Because the girls.

Scythian, DC’s native purveyor of Irish tunes, crooned ‘and I lost my heart to a Galway girl’, in a lively cover of Steve Earle’s “Galway Girl”. Then later, Gaelic Storm performed their brand new “Girls Night in Galway”, an ode to the multitude of bachelorette parties that festoon the city.

ShamrockFest is an exercise in excess. An excessive amount of Irish and Celtic music. An excessive number of people dressed in elaborate green costumes. An excessive desire to visit Galway (for me, at least).

Strolling around the RFK Stadium Festival Grounds, there is no question that DC loves St. Patrick’s Day. Taking a cue from Carbon Leaf’s dance ready “The Donnybroke Affair”, you might describe ShamrockFest as ‘a rough-n-tumble free-for-all’ and ‘a ruckus to be reckoned with’.

Festival goers were ready for a day of music and beer. I would guess a large percentage of the sold-out crowd partook in the VIP package, which included access to an expansive VIP area and bottomless beer within.

The VIP area spread between the Gold stage and the Green stage. Aside from the dedicated beer stalls and a small DJ booth, it also provided cordoned off and up-close access to both stages. The lines for beer were so long that Red Frog Events eventually opened up VIP member’s access to all festival beer stands. Which then made all the lines long. We want our beer.

The sprawling Festival Grounds is not attractive (after all, it is a parking lot), but the three stages and the electronic tent were spaced apart so that you never felt overwhelmed by crowd movements and spontaneous dancing.

The beer selection was small, but with three choices and a cider (Guinness, Guinness Blond, Yuengling and Angry Orchard Cider), it was both appropriate and better than many festivals. The food offered was nothing beyond typical festival fare to further the St. Patrick’s Day theme. But Bailey’s Irish Coffee was on offer. Yes and thank you.

Other activities included Bear Pong (an outsized version of the classic beer pong) and Cornhole hosted by NAKID Social Sports. There were also stalls selling green things, kilts and alcohol infused cigars. Nice. There could have been more to do, if you wanted a break from the music.

The music options were an eclectic mix of Irish standards, electronic dance, covers, folk, fiddles, Celtic songs and a pinch of blues (Traveler) thrown in for good measure.

I was able to listen to a good number of bands on the Gold, Green and Dewey Beach stages, and did also poke my head into the DJ tent (Electric Isle).

The main complaint for the Electric Isle tent was there was a sizable pool of water in the middle, towards the back, courtesy of the rain from the previous day. People danced around it.

Here is my music lineup and brief notes on each.

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