EDITORIAL: Something in return
Maybe it’s mercenary of us, but if Clinton is going to sell its soul to put alcohol in the middle of our family-friendly downtown festivals, we hope the city’s going to get something for it.
There’s nothing in the special events ordinance about beer vendors paying the city a fee to sell (give away??) beer. But we have enough economics experience to know it’s probably not a get-beer-free kind of thing. People drink beer at the Chamber Oyster Roast, and they have to pay to get in. People are going to drink beer at The Barn in Mountville for the Clinton Tennis benefit, and they have to pay to get in. So, we hope people who go into the City of Clinton Beer Garden at Rhythm on the Rails are going to have to pay to get in. Pay to get out, too, for the privilege of taking a Breathalyzer test.
If the city makes money from beer sales, maybe it can get bigger and better name entertainment. That would draw more people - although we’re not sure how many more people the city wants to draw when it schedules The Tams. We know, old-time rock-n-rollers don’t like beach music but, buddy, it sure draws the people! And some of them drink - they can get there early and park close enough to just walk to their car and mix a toddy, nobody’s ever the wiser. And, the city makes no money.
Nobody gets unruly. No children were harmed in the making of this fun time. No muss, no fuss.
Rather than the municipal-sanctioned sale of beer and wine on the streets, maybe the city should simply encourage businesses to be open during festivals. For a simple permit fee, the businesses could serve beer and wine to their customers. They could stand in front of the business, cup in hand, and listen to music. No roaming with alcohol - that comes later, as Laurens figured out with the Sip n Stroll. Just drinking wine inside a business is not really compatible with the idea of “strolling.”
Beer and wine drinkers aren’t going to want to stand around in a beer garden all night - no matter how many fellow drinkers are standing around with them. They’re going to want to dance, so they’ll chug it, go dance, come back, show their bracelet, and chug it some more. They’ll be walking around the festivals after - we suspect - quite a few chugs. Not to worry, security will be on duty.
Everybody around us has these beer-swigging festivals - Newberry had one Saturday - and nobody ever gets out of hand. For Rhythm on the Rails, the Saturday entertainment goes from 1 to 10 p.m. (just like Newberry’s Groove & Brew) and we presume the beer garden(s) is going to be open the whole time. That’s 9 hours of chugging and dancing and walking.
The city has thought all this through, and put it in an ordinance (except the part about charging beer vendors a fee, apparently; maybe it’s in the permit they have to buy) so everything is going to be OK. The government is in charge - what could possibly go wrong? Now that the county council has gotten through with its vote last night on drink-beer-and-wine-on-Sunday (third and final reading of an ordinance), we can load up on even more spirits.
With all this pent-up demand for beer and wine in Laurens County, it’s just a matter of a couple weeks before we get our first craft brewery. Maybe they can rent out some space in Bourbon & Bubbles.