The City Commission of Arkansas City voted 3-0 on Aug. 1 to approve an ordinance allowing the consumption of alcohol at PrairieFest this year.

City of Arkansas City logoWhile consumption also has been allowed in years past, there will be a change in where it can occur this year.

In years past, beer was allowed within the confines of snow fencing used to segregate the rotunda from the rest of Wilson Park.

The common area was monitored by the placement of disposable bracelets on those who were of legal drinking age.

This year, there instead will be a bar area on the four westernmost tennis courts, which were decommissioned recently.

The area will be closed off to anyone younger than 21 and no alcohol can leave the area.

The commission was provided two options — either to use the old method or to modify the drinking area.

“Chief Ward, what would you like for us to explore?” asked Commissioner Karen Welch.

“The reason I suggested (the change) is that it is much easier to police,” said Police Chief Dan Ward.

“At the last event, we didn’t have an issue,” Ward admitted. “I feel fine with how it worked last time.”

But that is not always the case with similar events. One recent event at the Agri-Business Building had problems keeping to the rules where alcohol was concerned.

Ward said he suggested the segregated drinking area in order to set a precedent that future event organizers can expect going forward.

Commissioner Jay Warren abstained from voting because he sells his wine at the event.

Commissioner Dan Jurkovich, who is on vacation, was absent from the meeting.

In other business, the commission:

  • approved a modified agenda that tabled until Sept. 5 an ordinance that would modify Municipal Code concerning buildings and building regulations.
  • unanimously approved minutes for the July 18 and July 25 meetings.
  • heard a financial update from South Central Kansas Medical Center Chief Financial Officer Holly Harper.
  • heard updates from City Manager Nick Hernandez on Carver and Chestnut parks, as well as the 15th Street and South Summit Street construction projects, the Wilson Park train restoration, and possible items to be included in Cowley County’s time capsule tonight.

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