After years of brewing inside two downtown establishments, St. Patrick’s Day festivities spilled outdoors into the first-ever block party in Napa dedicated to the holiday.
Downtown Joe’s and Bounty Hunter held a joint block party Sunday in the Main Street parking lot that sits between their businesses. The inaugural event, which organizers hope will grow into an annual St. Patrick’s Day Napa staple, brought together music, food, partiers and, of course, plenty of beer and spirits.
“It’s something we’ve been wanting to do for the past four or five years because St. Patrick’s Day is the start of our busy season,” said Leeann Morikone, office manager for Downtown Joe’s. “We’re hoping this will really take off in the next couple years, that a lot of other businesses will join in and make it one big St. Patrick’s Day party in Napa.”
The holiday is the busiest day of the year for Downtown Joe’s brewpub, so General Manager Bobby Cabrera hoped the block party would serve as a spillover area, allowing more people to take part in the festivities. Bounty Hunter experiences larger-than-normal crowds on St. Patrick’s Day and was excited to take part in the event, said General Manager Will Wright.
“It’s St. Paddy’s Day,” he said. “You’ve got to celebrate.”
In addition to serving ribs and coleslaw, Bounty Hunter was doing what organizers insist it does better than any other establishment in Napa: pouring Guinness.
“We pour the best Guinness in town,” Wright said. “It takes a minute-45 to pour the perfect Guinness. You’ve got to take the time to let it cascade, you don’t pour it all at once — that way you get a nice, creamy, rich head on it.”
Bounty Hunter is the only place in Napa to serve up a certified Guinness pint, Wright said.
Other booths served up beverages and food, including corned beef, cabbage and potatoes offered by Downtown Joe’s. Organizers expected that 10 kegs of Guinness and 400 pounds of corned beef would be consumed throughout the day.
With live Irish and Celtic music playing in the background, attendees danced, cheered, and drank their way through the sunny afternoon. One couple debated whether foot stomping was best done standing or sitting, while others had shamrocks and rainbows painted on their cheeks by local face-painter Shalom Rorabaugh.
“I think everybody is just carefree and fun, and green is a great color,” she said. “You’ve got the rainbow, shamrocks — it’s just colorful and festive.”
Megan O’Malley came out with a group of friends, opting to stay local this St. Paddy’s Day.
“We went to San Francisco last year and we decided this year we wanted to support Napa and be here and be local, so we decided to stay,” she said.
Julie Morales, events manager for the Napa Downtown Association, said that’s exactly what she hoped the event would do for Napa: encourage people who might leave the valley for events to stay, and spend, in town.
San Francisco “has a parade and I think a lot of people go to the city, but what if we had something here and people could stay in town?” Morales said. “I think it’s wonderful for downtown.”
The event brought with it a pub crawl component. Attendees who purchased beverages at Billco’s Billiards & Darts or Norman Rose Tavern received tickets to raffles happening at the block party.
“We want merchants supporting each other,” Morales said. “The only way it’s going to work down here is if everybody helps each other out.”
Next year, Cabrera said he hopes other restaurants and bars will take part in the event, which by all accounts was a success in its first year.
“It’s great,” said Michelle McArdle, a Vacaville resident who is originally from Belfast, Ireland. “(The Sorry Lot band is) very traditional — their voices are just like at the bars in Ireland. You can’t find this stuff here.”