Organizers prepare for Irish on Ionia Saturday

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — It’s time for Michigan’s largest St. Patrick’s Day street party to roll back into town.

Irish on Ionia celebrates its eighth annual event Saturday and 24 Hour News 8 talked to the event director about what to expect.

It’s an event that attracted 17,000 people last year, which is a far cry from its inaugural event where 1,000 people attended.

“We went out into the small (Stella’s) parking lot and had 1,000 people,” event director Shane Philipsen explained. “We thought that was like pretty great.”

It may have been great for the time, but Philipsen and his BarFly Ventures team are preparing for much bigger numbers for Saturday.

“Grand Rapids is on the map. We’re Beer City USA,” he told 24 Hour News 8.

A sea of green will fill Ionia Avenue and tunes will fly into the air.

Philipsen said that there will be live Celtic music on one stage and live DJs on the second stage.

Grand Haven’s Odd Side Ales canned and kegged a special brew called “8 out of 10 Ain’t Bad” for this year’s festival.

There will also be three times as many “ticket cocktailers.” They are the workers who run your credit card so you can avoid long lines to re-up your drinking tickets. 

“They’ll be walking around the festival and even outside of the gate,” the event director said. “I bought them these great flags that sit on their back. You’ll be able to visually see them literally down the street.”

After a five-year break, the Guinness tent will be back this year. There will also be more food trucks this year, including several dessert options.

A pro-tip from Philipsen: have your designated driver make drop-offs and pick-up along Commerce Avenue.

Online sales close Friday at midnight. There will be a limited amount of tickets sold at the gate, and if you buy a VIP ticket there are perks listed online. A donation is also given to the local Boys and Girls Club for those tickets.

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