Thursday, May 15, 2003

Beer OK'd at VOA park festival, but bingo tent denied

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

WEST CHESTER TWP. - The Tristate's first Fourth of July celebration of the season won't be a dry one.

Beer will flow for the first time at West Chester Township's Freedom Fest at Voice of America Park on June 28 and 29.

Last year's event stalled because of extreme heat and poor attendance, but West Chester leaders hope the ability to chug a tall cold one will liven up this year's festival.

"Beer is a family beverage in the Cincinnati area," Trustee Catherine Stoker said. "It is appropriate to try it out this year. If the community goes berserk at the excitement of having a beer, we might have to reconsider. But I don't think that is going to happen."

Trustee Dave Tacosik, however, objected at Tuesday's trustees meeting, where the issue was settled in a 3-2 vote.

"I just think it sets a bad tone," said Tacosik, who is up for re-election this year. "If we need to provide alcohol to make a festival fun, then I'm not so sure a festival is necessary."

Several other Fourth of July celebrations in the Tristate serve beer with little or no trouble, Administrator Dave Gully has said.

One of the most popular summer festivals in West Chester, at St. John Catholic Church on Cincinnati-Dayton Road, serves beer and has gambling without incident, other township leaders note.

Stoker had proposed pitching a bingo tent so a veterans group could raise money for the ongoing restoration of the Voice of America Museum, but Trustee Jose Alvarez quickly squelched that idea.

"We don't want to get carried away," he said.

Beer sales will be strictly controlled to certain areas of festival grounds and monitored by the West Chester Police Department, township officials say. Revelers must show identification to obtain a drinking wristband.

Proceeds from the beer sales will be divvied up between the township and Union Centre Boulevard Merchant Association.

The association will use proceeds for its Union Centre Bash on Aug. 9 and 10, a festival with bands, a car show and food booths. The township will donate its take to parks.

The beer will be provided by Warsteiner Importers Agency Inc., a German beer distributor whose national headquarters is in West Chester.


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