Downtown Waupaca event to host beer garden
By Angie Landsverk
Open intoxicants will be allowed on the premises of the Mini Spudder Open when it is held in downtown Waupaca.
The premises will include one block of South Main Street, from Union to Fulton streets, as well as the public sidewalks in that area and the lawn in front of city hall and the Waupaca Area Public Library.
The Waupaca Common Council approved the request by a vote of 7-3 when it met on July 21.
Steve Hackett, Paul Mayou, Eric Olson, Jillian Petersen, Dave Peterson, Scott Purchatzke and Chuck Whitman voted in favor of it.
Lori Chesnut, Paul Hagen and Alan Kjelland voted against it.
“It isn’t going to be a drunk fest,” Mayou said before the council voted.
The Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce requested the Special Class B Retailers License on behalf of those involved in the event.
The chamber, city and downtown retailers group called Waupaca, King & In-Between are working together to establish several new events in the downtown area.
They want to promote the idea of eating and shopping locally.
With the reconstruction of South Main Street tentatively planned for 2018-19, the group wants to establish new events now to draw people downtown.
The Mini Spudder Open is the first of two new events being planned this year. It will be held from 4-8 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 27, and will include potato-themed dishes from several local restaurants and a “tater tot” area for children.
The nine-hole mini golf event, open to people of all ages, will take place on Main Street. The food and beverage area will be partially on the sidewalk and partly on the lawn in front of the library and city hall.
Initially, organizers of the event requested that open intoxicants be allowed not only on the premises of the event, but on the public sidewalks all along South Main Street, from Badger to Granite streets.
That request went before the common council on July 7 before organizers scaled it back, based on the input they received that night from council members.
Brennan Kane, the city’s development director, told the council there will be barricades at both ends of the block, as well as signs saying alcohol is not allowed beyond those points.
“We feel comfortable we will have ample volunteers and off-duty officers as well,” he said.
The officers will be reserve deputies, and wristbands will be required to purchase alcohol.
Terri Schultz, president of Waupaca’s chamber, said the alcoholic beverages will be poured into blue cups that have a special logo on them.
Several council members expressed concerns about not requiring a fenced-in area for alcohol, as the city has required in the past, and questioned why the event has to include alcohol.
“Other events have not had alcohol and were successful,” Chesnut said.
Hagen said while the organizers of the Mini Spudder Open proposed a smaller area for the overall event, the layout did not address mixing minors and adults.
Kjelland said he heard from constituents in his district, and none supported the idea of allowing open intoxicants throughout the premises.
“This is a four-hour event. It’s meant to promote excitement downtown,” City Administrator Henry Veleker said.
While Mayou appreciates the concerns some have about it, he said minors will not be drinking at the event.
He said underage youth will have their 21-year-old cousins buy them a case a beer and drink it in their garages like they have been doing for decades.
Alcohol could be completely eliminated from the event, or those drinking alcohol could be put in a “cage,” Mayou said, referring to the idea of requiring a fenced-in area.
He said children are in restaurants all the time, where they are exposed to alcohol.
Anita Olson, a downtown business owner and past president of Waupaca, King & In-Between, spent her life working as a nurse in a hospital’s emergency room.
“I would not be for this if it wasn’t a safe thing,” she said.