Shamrock the 'Burg returns to Williamsburg

sbirkenmeyer@vagazette.com

The luck of the Irish will be on full display this St. Patrick's Day when Shamrock the 'Burg returns for another night of celebrating the Emerald Isle.

The Williamsburg chapter of the Kiwanis Club, a volunteer organization focused on helping local children learn and grow, is once again hosting the event.

Guests can indulge in live music, libations and food well into the night. Richmond-based band The Donnybrooks will supply Irish tunes to help create an authentic atmosphere.

Guinness draught and Harp lager are the featured drinks, in addition nonalcoholic drinks for designated drivers. Corned beef and cabbage — quintessential Irish cuisine — will complement the beer offerings.

"There are so many things going on around Williamsburg," event Chairman Rick Lodwick said. "It's hard to find something unique."

Lodwick, a Kiwanis Club member for 13 years, organized the first Shamrock the 'Burg in 2010. Past events transpired on the Saturday prior to St. Patrick's Day, but because the holiday falls on a Friday this year, he wanted to embrace the opportunity to celebrate on the special day for the first time.

Proceeds from the event will benefit several charities, including:

•Dream Catchers of Williamsburg offers horse-related activities for children with special needs.

•The Avalon Center supports individuals affected by domestic and sexual abuse.

•Bacon Street aids local families affected by substance abuse.

United Way's Home for Good program helps the area's homeless find permanent shelter.

"It's putting the fun in fundraiser," Lodwick said.

Classic Irish music

The evening's main attraction is traditional Irish pub music, the kind that implores you to sing and dance along with little regard for the beer sloshing around and into the air. The Donnybrooks are happy to oblige in this endeavor.

"You can sing along with them," Lodwick said.

The acoustic band played last year's event, and were eager to return for an encore.

"It was a great crowd and we enjoy playing for people who enjoy Irish music," band member Mike Smith said.

Smith, a graduate of the College of William and Mary's computer science program, plays guitar, banjo and the pennywhistle for the band. He said he fills whatever role is necessary. The band also employs the use of Irish instrumental staples such as the mandolin and bodhrán, traditional hand drums native to the island.

The four-piece band formed in 2008, mostly plays in pubs around their native Richmond during the bandmates' spare time, when careers and other obligations can fade away in favor of their art. March is their prime time, when they play numerous gigs like the Church Hill Irish Festival in the commonwealth's capital.

Shamrock the 'Burg gives the band an opportunity to branch out beyond the Richmond area. When Lodwick called, Smith was excited to answer.

"It's a very hospitable, friendly environment," Smith said. "There's a good culture supportive of crowd participation."

Lodwick emphasized the event's casual, pub-like ambiance.

"The people fill the rest of the atmosphere," he said.

Celtic dancers will also dazzle in between the band's sets. Cumascaigh School of Irish Dance, which as studios in Williamsburg and Yorktown, will be appearing for the first time in the event's history.

In its celebration of Irish heritage, the ultimate goal of Shamrock the 'Burg is to bring together people from all sorts of cultures in the midst of a hectic world.

"For St. Patrick's Day, everyone's Irish," Smith said. "It's the one time of year where it doesn't really matter what your background is."

Lodwick hopes to attract a wide range of the 21-and-up crowd to the casual, friendly and most importantly, fun event.

"It's going to start after work and go until we feel like shutting it down," Lodwick said.

Birkenmeyer can be reached by phone at 757-790-3029.

Want to go?

When: 5:30 p.m. on Friday

Where: Williamsburg Community Building.

Tickets: $10 and tickets are available at williamsburgkiwanis.org/shamrock-the-burg-2017.

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