The chili festival committee wants a “beer garden!” There is a reason that there is an ordinance against alcoholic beverages in the city parks — children!

The chili festival committee wants a “beer garden!” There is a reason that there is an ordinance against alcoholic beverages in the city parks — children! This should be a no-brainer. Alcoholic beverages and children don’t mix.

“Havelock Chili Festival to request beer garden” was the headline on the Havelock News webpage Monday afternoon. Apparently we have been to the table on this issue before but now it’s not about money, not at all. It’s about the chili fest powers-that-be wanting “to attract a wider diverse crowd” by serving beer in a controlled environment (a 10-by-20 chili fest tent with some type of fencing around it). They want a place where the citizens of Havelock can have a cold one with some of the world’s best chili.

Think about this for a moment. It’s Friday night of the festival. Folks bring their children to get homemade ice-cream, lumpia, chicken wings and hear some good music. Oh yeah! While little Johnny and little Susie are checking out some great vendors that have been attracted by the chili fest, dad and mom can stop by the “beer garden” for a couple of cold ones.

This is great. We get to hear live bands, and chug back one, two, three, etc. and then drive home. Maybe they will only have one or two (Side note: Studies show people have more than just one drink in a gathering). Maybe a single person with no children or a great deal of responsibility can afford many more then just three or four, and they will call a cab and everything will be OK. I can see the cabs lining up now, but wait, they are already servicing our town’s other establishments.

Snap out of it! This is ridiculous! Families don’t go to other establishments no matter how much you call yourself a family atmosphere at night because it isn’t a family atmosphere, even when you have a segregated area. When you offer this kind of venue, you will attract a different type of participant. Studies show that one in 12 people who leave a pro sports event leave drunk. Now the Chili Festival isn’t a pro sports event, so let’s just say one in 24. With past chili fest attendance at 25,000, that equals 1,042 intoxicated participants — not forgetting the “wider diverse crowd” we would be attracting, so those numbers could go up as projected.

What a great direction we would be heading in! Havelock is a family town, so are we really thinking of some of the problems we will be creating by adding a “beer garden?” If the Board of Commissioners allows the chili fest the exception to the ordinance so the Chili Festival can make more money, then we are going about this the wrong way. Even though they won’t say it’s for more money, only to attract a more diverse crowd, then congratulations is past due, Havelock you’re not already diverse.

Don’t get me wrong. I want this festival to succeed, but if we have to add a bar scene to it, then we are going to get bar scene problems as well. 

Finally, July 28 at 7 p.m. is a time to be heard, so I encourage anyone who supports or opposes this request to show up at the Board of Commissioners meeting and voice your concerns. Mothers Against Drunk Driving, this is an opportunity to make a difference in Havelock.

Clint Jones, Havelock