Overcoming cultural divides, dozens of Black residents took part in celebrating Saint Patrick's Day at the Shamrock Beer Bash March 15. "It seems the more and more I work I start to see more and more of [Black residents] coming out to the events," Duane Harper, a staff member told the AFRO. "It seems like we're navigating more to these types of events."
Participants were given the choice to buy tickets for a three-hour session in the afternoon, evening, or both to embrace the infamous alcoholic past time of the holiday. Drink the District LLC hosted the event in Southeast D.C. across from the Washington Nationals Baseball Park. The event was for young professionals, novice beer drinkers, and connoisseurs in the D.C. area.
At the event, participants received unlimited samplings of 75 different beers from brewers such as Bold Rock Hard Cider in Nellysford, Va., Sweetwater Brewing Co. in Atlanta, Ga., and Smuttynose Brewing Co. in Portsmouth, N.H. among others. Although, the Irish holiday calls for lots and lots of beer, District food trucks were also onsite.
Harper, 39 said many of the beverages at the event are not sold in predominantly Black areas of the D.C/Maryland/Virginia area. "We don't need to embrace our own events to have a good time," Harper said. "There are more of us coming to these events, not only with an open mind, but to expand our palette."
He said that although the event did show some diversity, he would like to see more. "I feel like we like to indulge and have a good time," Harper said.
Ed Carter, a civilian employee at the Navy Yard, was one of a multicultural group of friends who wore kilts to the bash. He said he was celebrating the holiday with his Irish brothers. This is his second year wearing a kilt. Carter, 28 said the fashion trend was called "kilt-up," a reference inspired by the "suit up" marketing phrase.
"It's fun enjoying the culture. It would be no different just wear whatever the tradition, whatever you're celebrating," Carter said.
Some of the Black participants at the event wore the traditional green color for the holiday, while others just went for a good time. "I feel like I'm missing out, not wearing green," Donnie Richardson, a veterinary nurse from Crofton, Md., said.
Two sisters, originally from Minnesota, attended the Irish-inspired event for the first time. "For us it's not necessarily like oh we're just the Black people at a White people event, because that was all of our events growing up in Minnesota,"
Courtney Burton, a communications coordinator with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in Baltimore, said. "I think it's great that we can be here and still enjoy ourselves. I don't think a beer festival should be specific to race even if it is a cultural event."
Her sister, Marecya, a senior at HBCU Bowie State University, said the event was a little more public-friendly because it included beer tasting. "I'm a cultural-type person so I don't mind exploring different cultures," she said. "I think it's really neat that I get to see this holiday that is so important to Irish people."