Four years ago, the Shell Factory decided to hold a small celebration for St. Patrick's Day, and it was a humble hit.
Today, the St. Patrick's Day Bash has become one of the biggest events of the year, and it's only going to get bigger Friday as, for the first time, the entire event will be outside after the Dolphin Room nearly burst at the seams last year with nearly 1,000 people in attendance.
Rick Tupper, marketing director and CFO of the Shell Factory, said moving the event outside will allow the event to double in size and allow entire families to come enjoy the fun.
"We're going to have our two huge tent and a beer tent. We're also going to have music with Chuck Peterson from noon to 7 p.m., pretty much the whole day," Tupper said.
The event will feature a dance floor and Irish dancers who will do shows at 1:30p.m. and 4 p.m., as well as green beer and corned beef and cabbage. At 5:30 p.m., there will be an adult costume contest, with prizes for best male and female, most Irish, funniest and Best in Show.
It's a far cry from where it started, Tupper said, when it was basically a get together with some buddies.
"We started with about 50 people from across the street. Then it grew to a few hundred and we had about 1,000 last year," Tupper said. "People are staying close to home, so we're hoping that people in the parks come."
The event has been heavily advertised to draw even more people in. Meanwhile, it's also spring break, which should bring in families; as a result, the fun park will be open.
"We expect the fun park to be very busy in the afternoon. We will have a fun park package and it will be a great day for the whole family, though as the day wears on, it will become more adult," Tupper said.
This is the first of several events the Shell Factory is putting on. The following weekend will be Goldenfest at the dog park, followed by Easter and the Taste of North Fort Myers in April.
Tupper added that in May the Shell Factory plans to add overnight campouts in the Nature Park on Saturdays through the month of May and June.
The Shell Factory and Nature Park is at 2787 N Tamiami Trail, North Fort Myers.