Panel ponders alcohol proposal

The discussion about whether the city should allow alcohol to be served at an upcoming festival continued at a Recreation and Public Property Committee meeting Wednesday afternoon.

Monday, Mark Wade and Nathan Mullins asked Tiffin City Council if it would consider allowing Tiffin Art and Music Festival to serve alcohol in order to generate more revenue to donate to the fireworks and the parks department.

“Over the past couple of days I think there’s been a loss of the big picture here,” Wade said. “This whole beer garden thing has become this focus like it’s this huge thing, it’s not. Compared to what’s going on (at the festival), it’s a small area.”

Tiffin has an ordinance prohibiting possessing, serving and consuming alcohol in city parks, and council would have to allow for an exception in order for the festival to serve alcohol.

Law Director Brent Howard presented ordinances from Columbus, Marietta and North Olmsted that have exceptions to prohibiting alcohol in city-owned parks.

Tiffin Mayor Aaron Montz suggested the ordinance include language that would prohibit alcohol from being served or consumed within a certain distance from a playing field or playground equipment.

Wade said the plan is to have the beer tent near the main stage, which is to play music more geared toward adults, while the other three stages will have music that will appeal to younger crowds.

Councilman Jim Roberts said he supports the festival, but he is concerned about underage drinking and thinks people younger than 21 should not be allowed in the tent.

“We have to separate the (18-20) year-olds from being within the area where you can buy the booze or we’re going to have a problem,” he said. “I guarantee you. I raised kids, they’re a sneaky bunch. When their lips are moving, you know they’re lying.”

Wade, who is a trustee of the Eagles and works with its Heritage Festival outdoor beer garden, said underage drinking has never been a problem at the Eagles’ tent, but he is willing to compromise and designate a non-drinking area near the main stage.

Mullins said he already planned to put bleachers near the main stage that would be outside of the beer garden.

Wade said there is to be a security, not only in the beer garden, but throughout the park during the festival. He said security is to be provided by an experienced state Highway Patrol trooper, as well at Tiffin University’s criminal justice program.

“In my mind, this beer garden is just a little piece of what these guys have created,” Wade said. “But it’s going to help them bring in revenue.”

Chairman of the committee Brian Bilger said, “It’s a concert with a beer tent, not a beer tent with a concert.”

Montz said the city has until the end of March to raise $5,000 for the down payment on fireworks, but he said he is working with Parks Director Steve Dryfuse to get that money raised.

Erin Snook and Ann Slemmer, of the Heritage Festival board, said they would gladly offer advice to Wade and Mullins for the Tiffin Art and Music Festival.

The festival is to take place June 7-8 and will feature four stages with 75 bands and artists performing.

The Recreation and Public Property Committee is to review ordinances from other cities, and will have Howard help develop a proposed ordinance council can vote on in an upcoming meeting.

The committee is to meet again Wednesday to continue the discussion.