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Event task force recommends common consumption

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By Will Grandbois
Sopris Sun Staff

It has been a fairly quiet year for Carbondale’s Special Event Task Force, but that may be about to change.

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The committee seems to have resolved many of the complaints that corresponded with its creation several years ago, Co-Chair Jake Boyles told trustees on Dec. 12. And with the calendar looking almost identical 2017 except for applying street closures to every single First Friday, it didn’t take long to approve the schedule.

Instead, the discussion focused on what would amount to a temporary repeal of open container laws on Main Street for three summer First Fridays — provided attendees purchase a special cup with proceeds helping put on the monthly event.

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“Not only were we looking for ways to bolster First Fridays… but it was also looking to create a funding mechanism,” Boyles explained. “There was some discussion of whether allowing drinks in the street disrupted the family friendly nature… but the majority of the committee sort of felt that it did in fact enhance it.”

“I don’t think it’s fair for First Friday to bear the blame of the 10 to 2 crowd when it’s really a 5 to 9 event,” he observed later.

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Businesses with a liquor or gallery license could opt in to serve folks who come in with an empty cup, allowing them to return to the street to socialize or stay with their families. Boyles hoped it might increase traffic to businesses outside the standard gallery-and-restaurant focus of the event, as well as alleviating crowds at the bars without reducing income.

“The goal is to increase revenue, not to cannibalize the revenue,” he said.

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Overall, most trustees seemed supportive of the idea.

“I think we can have a family friendly event with alcohol,” Erica Sparhawk said.

“I totally support this. I think it’s awesome,” Heather Henry agreed. “I’m really interested in the details.”

Indeed, that may prove the sticking point, with logistics ranging from security to carding to encouraging or preventing reuse of cups at future events.

Frosty Merriott expressed hesitation, as did Mayor Dan Richardson, though he recalled the fun of Mountain Fair Main Street in the days before Carbondale had an open container law.

“It’s discussions like this that make me feel old,” he said.

Ultimately, the council agreed that further conversation and a public hearing, though not required by law, is warranted. The issue should appear on agenda in early 2018.

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