On Saturday, St. Pat’s in Five Points should have a noticeably different vibe. The festival drew more than 40,000 people last year, a record for the event entering its 31st year. But the festival was uncomfortably congested on Harden Street. To alleviate the clogged streets that made it hard to go from one side of the festival to another, organizers have made changes.
They’ve even made it easier for you to get into the festival.
Here are a few of the significant changes:
People will now be able to pay for tickets with a credit card at the gate. In previous years, festivalgoers had to wait in the same line to buy their ticket and have their bag checked. Then, once inside the festival, there was another line for ID. To decrease the time spent waiting in lines at the gate, there will be a separate ticket booth. Also, IDs will be checked outside of the gate.
According to the festival, food sales were down last year simply because people couldn’t reach vendors through the Harden Street congestion. This year, all vendors will be moved off Harden, save two beer trucks. The South Carolina-based food vendors will be placed in four food courts, with tents and chairs, throughout the festival. Also, in addition to beer, the festival will be selling non-alcoholic beverages in every food court.
There were complaints that tickets purchased through etix.com, one of many online ticket retailers, cost much more than tickets purchased at the gate because of service charges. The festival is now using eventbrite.com.
The stage reserved for local bands is moving from the Five Points Fountain to a stage that will be near Chick-fil-A.
In recent years, sending texts and making calls while at the festival had become frustrating tasks. The festival is planning to massage the headache. Discussions have included bringing in a COW, an acronym for cell on wheels, a mobile cell site, as well as increased bandwidth availability.
Festivalgoers will receive a pocket-sized program with stage lineups and other pertinent festival information.
The V.I.P. area will move from The Gourmet Shop to Saluda’s restaurant where people can watch the festival from the balcony.
Trash receptacles will be dumped more frequently, and the festival received a grant from Palmetto Pride to enhance its recycling program.
Free Times Stage
Intersection of Saluda Avenue and Blossom Street
Miller Lite/Rock 93.5/Fox 102 Stage
Intersection of Blossom and Harden Streets
WXRY Local Music Stage
College Street (near Chick-fil-A)
Shaggin’ on Santee
If you go
St. Pat’s in Five Points
Get to the Green 5k and 10k
Get to the Green touts itself as the largest road race in the Midlands, and this year it’s getting bigger by adding the 10K distance. There’s also a one-mile walk. The racing begins at 7:30 a.m. and the route will take runners through Shandon. The race ends on Devine Street. In addition to running awards, there’s one for the best dressed leprechaun. For more, visit gettothegreen.com.
St. Pat’s Parade
The parade begins at 10 a.m. at Dreher High School and will travel on Devine Street through Five Points. Get to your viewing spot earlier and bring a lawn chair if you want to sit down.
Pot O’ Gold Playland
The children’s area, open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. in Martin Luther King Jr. Park, will feature rides, games, a petting zoo, magic show, karaoke and face painting, among other things.
The St. Pat’s shuttle service, which has been operating for four years, will run from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. And this year the festival is using bigger buses that will run every 20 minutes. Here’s where to catch the bus:
• Capital City Stadium on Assembly Street to the Greene Street Gate;
• Park Street behind the Koger Center to the Greene Street Gate;
• Hand Middle School on the King Street side to the Devine Street Gate (this shuttle begins at 11 a.m.).
No food, beverages, backpacks, coolers or containers will be allowed on buses.
Checker Yellow Cab and the Five Points Association will pay the first $10 of cab fare to a home or hotel.