Updated Wed, Jun 25, 2014 4:33 pm
The Nelsonville Area Chamber of Commerce has asked that the city make exceptions to the law that prohibits consuming alcohol on the Nelsonville Public Square during special events.
On Monday, Chamber board member Miki Brooks approached Nelsonville City Council about the possibility of granting variances to the law on a case-by-case basis to be able to serve beer or wine during outdoor events such as the Ohio Smoked Meat and Barbecue Festival, which will be held in October.
Brooks said that four teams have already registered for the annual barbecue competition instead of waiting until the last minute.
“We took that as a sign that this event is growing and we would like to actually enhance that and make it more of a festival,” Brooks told Council.
To grow the event, Brooks said the Chamber would like to provide guests with entertainment and the opportunity to purchase adult beverages to drink with their barbecue.
Brooks cited a recent Messenger article about the upcoming Bounty on the Bricks fundraiser, which is held on Court Street in Athens. The dinner event is a fundraiser for area food pantries and wine is served during the meal. Tickets for the August event sold out within days.
“I think that it shows that things can happen that involve beer or wine and are civilized and income producing,” Brooks noted. “I believe that we have to adapt or we’re going to die here in Nelsonville. I believe we need to, as a chamber, do everything we can to enhance businesses.”
Councilman Greg Smith said he doesn’t believe citizens wanted to see beer being consumed on the Public Square and that alcohol should be confined to private property, such as the parking lot near Stuart’s Opera House. The opera house has a special events permit that allows them to serve alcohol in the parking lot and in the venue.
Brooks said that’s what already occurs, but that guests to festivals would prefer to be able to walk around with their beer or wine to enjoy the festivities and socialize.
Councilman Eddie VanBibber agreed with Brooks’ position.
“I find that if people are moving about, they’re less likely to drink enough to make them drunk,” he said.
Councilman Terry Koons said that he would bring the topic up for discussion during the next planning and development meeting on Tuesday.