The Daily Gamecock

'Energy was just through the roof': St. Pat's in Five Points festival returns, celebrates 40-year anniversary

The 40th Annual St. Pat's in Five Points Parade took place this past Saturday, March 19, 2022. The festival included a variety of performances, food, and parade spectacles from colorful floats to marching band fanfare.

The streets of Five Points were packed with people in all shades of green this weekend for the first St. Pat’s in Five Points event in two years. 

The singer of The Lottery Winners, a British band, performs at the 40th Annual St. Pats in 5 Points.
The singer of The Lottery Winners, a British band, performs at the 40th Annual St. Pats in 5 Points.

The day included a variety of events, but the main event was four stages of performing musicians. Starting around noon, five artists performed at each stage, and the four headliners were Blues Traveler, Surfaces, Lainey Wilson and Sourwood Honey. The streets were closed off allowing the festival to break down into sections with a stage in different areas. Food and vendors also lined the busy area. 

Ticket sales were pacing higher than normal in the week leading up to the event, according to Katy Renfroe, the association manager of the Five Points Association. She said she hoped for a large crowd, as it was a big change for the event and its 40-year anniversary. 

Typically, the organizing committee sells 30% of tickets beforehand and 70% of tickets the day of, with an average of 45,000 people attending.

Per the City of Columbia, there were no mask requirements for the event. 

“We need to have it this year. Everybody's ready for it. We're ready for it. We just are ready to get back out,” said Renfroe the week leading up to the event. “We've been told at the time (in January) that Omicron was going to be dissipated by now. And it has. And that COVID was going to be on a downward trend by the time we had the festival, so we were more concerned about rain than anything.”

Although Renfroe said the exact number will not be available for around a week, Five Points was filled with people later in the day. Almost every ATM, bathroom, bar and entrance had a line once the event picked up.

The first half of the day was met with overcast skies and rain that caused smaller crowds and some momentarily disappointed vendors, but the sun came out around 2 p.m. and the event began to grow drastically.

The streets looked like one large crowd once the headliners began to perform. 

Kyle Skoczylas, a Columbia local and First Palmetto Bank employee, attended St. Pat’s in Five Points — his favorite holiday celebration — for seven years before its closure. He was one of many dressed head to toe in a holiday themed outfit, and he said, even though his legs hurt from the event’s 5-k, he was happy to be back after two years. He insisted his girlfriend join him this time to enjoy the bands, food and drink.

Trae Judy is a concert promoter in Columbia who consults for the St. Pats committee and helps book the bands for the event. The committee typically books artists for different stages to appeal to the variety of people typically in attendance:college students, Columbia residents of all ages and demographics, and the local music scene. 

Bands who performed in the past included Walker Hayes, Morgan Wallen, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, and Rainbow Kitten Surprise, according to Renfroe. 

“This year ... the biggest thing just had to do with more people's schedules and strategies for the year of 2022,” said Judy about the obstacles he faced with COVID-19 and booking the talent.

The 502s, a band that came to St. Pat’s from Florida, said that they had a great time performing and look forward to coming back.

“The show was awesome. Columbia was awesome. Probably the best city in America. And we’ll have to come back soon because the energy was just through the roof,” said Ed Isola, the main singer and banjoist. 

Emma Depretbixio is a Columbia native and first-year student at the University of Tennessee. She changed  spring break plans to bring her friends to Columbia for the event, especially the headliner Surfaces. She said she missed the event the last two years and she had to come this year.

“Now that you see all these, like, not local, but kind of local bands come here, it's amazing. So, obviously, I'd come down here with all my friends. And friends that don’t even come in Columbia. And now they all love it,” Depretbixio said.

Depretbixio is just one Columbia resident and long-time St. Pat’s fan who has been excited for the event's return. 

That was also the consensus for new and old Five Points businesses. People at local establishments, such as Cotton Gin, said they were looking forward to the busy day, while those at Blue Pizza and Jack Brown’s Burger Joint said they were excited to be a part of this scene for the first time. 

“It's exciting. It's my first time doing it, and it's a lot more than I thought,” said Logan Fredricks, the son of the owner and employee at Blue Pizza.