Green beer was in the hands of many who gathered on the downtown Gainesville square Saturday to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day weekend at the Gainesville Business Coalition’s first-ever St. Patrick’s Weekend on the Square.
The event was the first of many events to come as the coalition hopes to draw more and more people to the square. That mission was a success as the number of people who came to the first day of the two-day event continued to grow as the night rolled on.
“This brings awareness to our restaurant as well as it brings business to all the restaurants around here,” said Andrew Elliott, co-owner of the Inked Pig. “If everyone grows together, then everyone continues to grow, so we’re 100 percent about supporting the other businesses around the area. … That’s the biggest thing is just helping everybody out.”
Guests were treated to live music from Aftershock, a band from Let There Be Rock Schools, and later the headliner, Redneck Blonde.
They also got to enjoy food and drink from a number of downtown businesses like Atlas Pizza, Downtown Drafts, Love Is All You Knead and the soon-to-open ChopBLOCK.
People of all ages were out in the cool weather wearing green, dancing and enjoying the day’s festivities. Some were in chairs, others were sitting on blankets, but all were having a good time.
Cheryl and Neal McMichael came from Buford to enjoy the evening as they were looking for something to do to celebrate the holiday weekend.
“We were trying to try out different things up this direction,” Cheryl said. “We would always go to Lawrenceville or Duluth, so we decided to check out something this way.”
Cheryl and her husband were enjoying themselves as Aftershock played on stage and were hoping for more events like St. Patrick’s Weekend on the Square in the future. Cheryl regularly attends other events in the area and wants more reason to make the trip to Gainesville more frequently.
“I like it because it’s a way to get out and be with people in a safe environment,” she said. “I feel good here.”
Jess Grubb was happy to be on the square, too. And so was her dog, Jonesy, who was on a green leash as they both listened to the band on stage.
Grubb was there to support her friend who was helping serve food at one of the tents. Even though she was sporting a green jacket in order to stay “festive,” she was mainly there to support the local businesses.
“Outside of (the square), you have a lot of that commercial and corporate stuff,” Grubb said. “This is where you get your more mom-and-pop business, your small business and they deserve love too.”
The coalition plans to spread that love by donating part of the proceeds from the event to the Children’s Hope & Healing Center, a Gainesville organization fighting the exploitation and sexual abuse of children.
The St. Patrick’s Weekend on the Square event will continue 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday with more entertainment along with some outdoor games and children's’ activities.