2012 Tomato Festival
Beer garden, battle of the bands added
The 2012 Reynoldsburg Tomato Festival will join the list of other events and charity functions which have turned to beer as a way to raise revenue.
Reynoldsburg City Council voted 6-1 on July 2 to approve a special permit for a beer garden at Huber Park, where the festival will be held Aug. 17 and 18. Alcohol is typically not permitted in the park.
Councilman Cornelius McGrady, who has said he doesn't support alcohol in city parks, opposed the special permit.
The beer garden will be cordoned off and will sit away from children's activities, according to festival president Mary Hudson.
"We'll have a tent and an outside area and you won't be able to get in unless you're 21," she said. "Patrons will have to wear a wristband and there won't be any alcohol allowed anywhere else on the grounds."
The Tomato Festival, which has been around for four decades, is free and relies on funding largely through a number of sponsors for its $50,000 annual budget.
The beer garden will be a much-needed financial boost for the event, which draws as many as 8,000 visitors a year, Hudson said.
"I hate to throw numbers out there, but if we make $5,000, we'd be over the moon," she said. "But you never know what to expect with the weather."
The Tomato Festival isn't alone in establishing spots where alcohol can be sold. The number of temporary alcohol permits issued across the state has gone up, according to the Ohio Department of Liquor Control, which issued more than 6,200 permits last year, compared to about 5,700 in 2008.
Pickerington lost its Jazz & Blues Ribfest two years ago when organizers decided to move it to Canal Winchester, which had an alcohol permit.
Tomato Festival organizers have been working with the police department and the Columbus Detective Agency, which provides security.
Acting Police Chief Lt. Jim O'Neill has said officers will be able to handle any problems that might arise at the beer garden. Volunteers will be trained to spot fake identification.
Hudson said festival organizers are recruiting about 150 volunteers to work the event. Those interested in helping out should call Chuck Cochran at 614-580-7218.
A training day is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 11, at Donatos Pizza, 1815 Brice Road.
One new event in this year's entertainment lineup, she said, is a "Battle of the Bands" competition with the winner playing prior to the McGuffey Lane concert on Aug. 18. Bands interested in entering the contest can get more information online at www.Reynoldsburgtomatofestival.org.
"We're hoping this will help our entertainment this year and that more people will come out to support their favorite bands," Hudson said.