Emerald Isle businesses hoping for lucky St. Patrick's Day Festival

EMERALD ISLE, NC (WITN) An Eastern Carolina town is hoping to bring a little luck to the start of tourist season.

Emerald Isle's St. Patrick's Day Festival is Saturday and it draws about 25-30,000 people every year.

"From here on out it's just summer," said Sharron Watson who manages Shark's Den Bar and Grill in the Emerald Isle Plantation Shopping Center. "This weekend might be [someone's] first time back to Emerald Isle this year."

Before the streets become a sea of green on Saturday, organizers made sure locals could bring their little leprechauns to the rides with less hassle.

"Me and my daughter decided to come today to check the rides that are less crowded," said Alicia Medina who moved with her daughter to Emerald Isle from Columbia last year. This is their first St. Patrick's Day weekend in the United States.

Festival director Alesia Sanderson said visitors bring with them a much needed pot of gold for the town's economy.

"So many of our merchants lost the fall season completely as a result of Hurricane Florence," said Sanderson.

The Shark's Den Bar and Grill is one of those merchants. The restaurant closed for repairs for some time after the storm.

"We're really hoping that this season will make up for all of that," said Watson.

In addition to rides and food the festival will also include vendors, live music and of course a beer garden. Organizers say they are pushing for visitors to drink responsibly. The festival's tag line this year is "Sip smarter, drive less."

The festivities will be going on in the area of the Emerald Isle Plantation shopping center.