Tenth annual event features local bands, Irish food, beer, a limerick contest and more

Shamrock Pub St. Patrick’s Day Block Party: 7 p.m.-midnight Friday and noon-midnight Saturday; Shamrock Pub, 2257 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota; free admission; shamrocksarasota.com

Over the years, Shamrock Pub’s St. Patrick’s Day party has grown from a small event to a booming block party that draws thousands and is the go-to celebration for the holiday in Sarasota.

And this year, the Irish bar will celebrate a decade of throwing the event.

“It’s humbling, flattering, all that stuff, that so many folks want to come here to Shamrock and experience this event,” owner Derek Anderson said recently from inside his bar. “So I work really hard to give them a good show, good lineup and try to get as much Irish authenticity as I can, but also having a Sarasota flavor to it.”

This year’s festivities start with a St. Patrick’s Eve event Friday featuring local Irish rock band Clover’s Revenge, then the big block party takes place Saturday with Sarasota groups including Wild Root, Physical Plant and Divine AF.

There will also be the finals to our Ticket Sarasota’s Top O’ the Limerick Contest, three bars with a dozen taps and food from Tableseide Restaurant Group including corned beef and cabbage, nachos and a vegetarian option. And the pub’s shamrock mural is being replaced with a new Irish-inspired design by local artist Greg Ferris.

Anderson, who has owned Shamrock since July 2007, started with a multi-day event leading up to a St. Patrick’s Day on Monday before introducing the block party. The first two years, the event lost money, though the bar still made a donation to its longtime beneficiary, the Sarasota YMCA Youth Shelter.

Then in its third year, a large turnout helped the event make up the losses of the previous years. The following year, it expanded, and has been growing ever since.

‘Organic growth’

“It was organic growth,” Anderson said. “There was other parties going on around town, but just none of them I guess really lasted for whatever reason, and we were just able to keep doing it year after year.”

Over the years, Shamrock Pub itself changed along with the block party. Anderson said when he bought the business, it was a “local, smoky, workingman’s bar” that didn’t even have a sign on the roof.

“During Hurricane Charley, the sign blew off, and the owners never replaced it,” Anderson said. “So it was really just this nondescript bar that half the people in town didn’t even know the name of.”

Shamrock Pub started incorporating craft beer and soccer, of which Anderson is a fan. On opening day of the 2010 World Cup, Shamrock officially became a non-smoking venue.

And further developing Shamrock Pub’s local profile has been the St. Patrick’s Day block party. Some of Anderson’s favorite moments include introducing the limerick contest in 2012 and working with local bands, some of whom are playing for their largest-yet audiences at the event.

The block party hasn’t been without its challenges over the years. A tropical storm hit Sarasota the same weekend as the event in 2014.

Yet even as they took a financial hit that year, Anderson said the amount of people that still turned out represented what a big event the St. Patrick’s block party has become for the community.

“It gave me a lot of confidence in what this event was just because despite the rain and the giant puddles and everything else around the area, we still had a huge turnout,” Anderson said.

Here’s the full schedule for this year’s event.

Friday

7 p.m.: Clover’s Revenge

The Sarasota Irish rock band will play this St. Patrick’s Day Eve show.

Saturday

Noon: Ship of Fools

The local Grateful Dead tribute act recreates the jam band's classics and deep tracks.

3 p.m.: Andy Thomas

The musician is a veteran performer at the St. Patrick’s Day block party.

5 p.m.: Ticket Sarasota Top O' the Limerick Contest Finals

The top five selected limericks from the contest will be recited before a panel of judges, with prizes including a $500 cash grand prize. Joey Panek, producer of the show "Suncoast View," serves as emcee.

5:30 p.m.: Blue Skye Pipes and Drums

The Sarasota all-woman pipe band playing Celtic instruments also performed at last year’s World Rowing Championships.

6:15 p.m.: Drake School of Irish Dance

The Sarasota Irish dance class will perform.

7 p.m.: Divine AF

The group will play covers of Irish rock group The Cranberries, whose frontwoman Dolores O’Riordan died in January, as well as their own music.

8:45 p.m.: Physical Plant

The long-running Sarasota indie-psych band released their debut full-length “What’s Laid Down” at the start of the year.

10:15 p.m.: Wild Root

The “funky soulful fusion” Sarasota area group closes out this year’s music lineup.