360 Fireworks Party

Monday, May 21, 2012


by Michael Monks 
Mayor Scheper before tapping the first keg
Mayors of Covington and other dignitaries have performed the ceremonial duty of tapping the first keg at Maifest as far back as anyone can remember for the 33-year old festival. But when Mayor Chuck Scheper continued the tradition last Friday evening in front of the Goose Girl Fountain in Mainstrasse by tapping that first keg and then watching beer be poured from it by a local German society dressed in traditional garb and singing German songs, officials from the Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control were on hand and said that the Mainstrasse Village Association, which organizes Maifest, was in violation for handing out free beer. 
That means in September when Oktoberfest rolls into the Mainstrasse Village the keg ceremony will be handled differently. "It's not like we want to give away free beer," said MSVA Executive Director Kim Blank. "We have twenty-eight temporary licenses that we buy, fourteen from the City and fourteen from the state. If there's an extra twenty-five dollar license to hand out a free drink for fifteen minutes, we would have gotten it."
Blank was referencing what she learned from the ABC officials who told her that in the future the MSVA would need a sampling license which would permit beer to be handed out at no charge in two or three ounce cups. Though no official citation was issued to the MSVA, the ABC officials requested a meeting with Blank on Wednesday to further discuss the issue. At Oktoberfest, instead of passing around the keg, "Hopefully we'll be able to do the keg tapping, you'll just get a two ounce sample and we'll buy the license for that," Blank said. 
Chalk art festival helped bring more traffic to Main Street
Blank also reported that the retail shops along with the restaurants and bars were in very good spirits following the weekend-long festival. "Every store I talked to said they had a great day, one shop had an all-time sales record, all of the vendors were happy, and the restaurants and bars did great," she said. One strategy that paid off was pulling more of the festival-goers up Main Street. "Our goal was to pull people up Main Street to help those restaurants and shops, that was the big thing I was hearing when I first got here, that they felt excluded," Blank said. "We added a stage there, a beer garden where the residents worked, we added a performer and we've been growing the chalk art contest. I think that's part of why they're having record sales. We're trying to circulate the crowd more instead of just having bottleneck traffic on Sixth Street and I think it's working."
What is also working is the attraction of new crafters to fill the many booths along Sixth. "We had twenty-five new crafters so we're really working on raising the bar each time to bring in newer and nicer crafts." One vendor making a Maifest debut was approached by a national distributor that may wish to carry their  items. Even some of the competitors in the chalk art contest came from out of town to vie for the three cash prizes of $250, $150, and $100 and Goodfella's Pizzeria was a smash hit. On Friday, "Goodfella's sold out by eleven of their pizza dough," Blank said. "They were thrilled. They're a new business and their business isn't even open yet." The small chain will open its third location and first outside of Lexington on Main Street in the coming weeks and operated out of a truck during Maifest.
"A lot of people are putting in a lot of work into raising the bar for our festivals and we're going to keep upping it with fresh arts and crafts," Blank said.
Carnival area in Fifth Street parking lot seen from
Pharaoh's Fury ride
Covington Police report seven arrests over the Maifest weekend with four coming after a fight at the Fifth Street parking lot where the carnival rides were set up. "What happened is we just had a really good turnout for the event, the area was packed and a pushing contest broke out that escalated into a fight," said Lieutenant Colonel Spike Jones of the Covington Police, who was present at the scene. "The officers did a great job. It was just a bunch of kids but we did end up arresting two adults and citing two juveniles and releasing them to their parents."
Blank said that the MSVA will take extra precaution at the next festival to prevent a repeat. "Our festival committee will get together to come up with a plan to have fencing around (the rides)," she said. "It won't just be a place for kids to hang out. You'll be there because you want to be riding rides. I have to look into how we are going to do it, but we're definitely going to put into place (a scenario) where it's not just a hang-out place for kids." That may include fencing and the requirement of purchased wristbands, Blank said. 

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