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Beer gardens are a bust for some at Ogden festival

Not everyone is happy about new liquor rules

SHARE Beer gardens are a bust for some at Ogden festival

OGDEN — The Annual 25th Street Festival got mixed reviews Saturday after regular party-goers could no longer drink from open beer containers while walking on sidewalks and streets in downtown Ogden.

Instead, this year's drinkers had to go inside a fenced beer garden to enjoy their spirits.

For 24 years, the Ogden street festival was considered unique because revelers could go inside bars, buy a beer, take it outside, and then open and drink it. Bar owners would get all the beer profits. Also, people were allowed to bring coolers of beer downtown to enjoy the festivities.

But not this year. City Council members decided to set up a few beer gardens and take home the profits. Some of that money will be used for expenses like entertainment, and what little is left over will be given to bar owners to defray their lost profits.

Food vendor Steven Alexander, said he was really unhappy about the way the city is taking away the one-day-a-year open-container festival. He said he is losing money this year and won't return to support the festival. He blamed his losses on the beer gardens, which he said force people to go inside a fenced area away from the sidewalk merchants.

"People in control of the street festival this year have no idea what the public wants," he said. "People come down here once a year to have fun. It's ridiculous."

Mayor Matthew Godfrey said earlier that the city decided to change the rules to encourage more of a family type atmosphere.

But the festival crowd looked as typical as past years: aging hippies, men wearing shorts with no T-shirts and others wearing "bubba" hats. Some in the younger crowd sported tattoos and dyed blond, orange, red and purple hair. Loud rock music was blaring everywhere, while revelers endured hot, humid conditions.

Some people said they supported the beer garden idea because fights could be controlled and public intoxication and minor drinking could be reduced.

Inside the beer garden with a beer in his hand and children running around him, Thomas Edwards, a long-time festival participant, said he thought the idea was working toward that aim.

"It keeps everything contained in one area," he said. "As screwed up as this world is, we should protect children (from seeing people drink alcohol) as much as possible."

About 30 police and reserve officers were patrolling at the festival. Ogden Police Lt. Marcy Korgerski said there had been no major problems as of midafternoon.

E-mail: statedesk@desnews.com