Oktoberfest at Rogers Park?

beer mug

Members of the Beaumont City Council recently met to discuss the possibility of a city-sponsored Oktoberfest event, and at a City Council meeting July 28, took a step in that direction, also talking about the potential for other themed events in the future.

Mayor Pro-Tem and Ward 2 Councilman Mike Getz recently expressed interest in having an Oktoberfest event at Rogers Park later this year. Council members have been holding Neighbors in the Park events for more than 20 years, according to City Manager Kyle Hayes, and Getz wanted his event to have a theme. Complete with the theme, the event would have a designated beer garden, with beverages supplied by approved city vendors, where interested adults could imbibe away from children and families.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Item 2 on the agenda proposed a change in Section 14.04.009(h) of the city’s Code of Ordinances, specifically to allow the sale, consumption and possession of alcoholic beverages within city parks under certain conditions, a step necessary in order for an Oktoberfest celebration at the park at which alcohol would be served.

Councilwoman Get Williams-Wright asked what “certain conditions” would be considered when deciding whether or not alcohol would be served at the parks.

Mayor Becky Ames said it was her understanding that any events where alcohol would be sold under the change in the ordinance would be city-sponsored events.

Williams-Wright addressed a concern voiced by a local resident during comments: “Under certain conditions, I do feel as though the families that would be out to enjoy an Oktoberfest would know how to govern themselves and their children accordingly.”

The measure passed unanimously, paving the way for Oktoberfest and other similar events.

Getz said the Oktoberfest celebration would be entertaining and educational for Beaumonters, and asserted that law enforcement officers would be present to ensure attendees’ safety.

According to Getz, he has received encouragement for Oktoberfest from his constituents and others across the city.

“I will say … there have been a handful of people … that do not want to have alcohol at any of our city parks under any circumstances,” Getz commented. “But by far, I have had hundreds of people contact me in support of this event. … We think this will be a very well-attended and successful event that could become quite popular.”

Cinco de Mayo

Mayor Becky Ames said her office was abuzz about another local celebration.

“I would like to clarify. … After our meeting last week, there was a call into my office at city hall that there were some citizens upset because it was printed, I believe, or misconstrued in (The Beaumont Enterprise) that we had sponsored Cinco de Mayo before, and they wanted me to know we had never done that. I said that the council did not think that. But just to clarify, if we were to do one, (beer and wine sales) would be available for any type of event we do in the city. I don’t think anyone on council ever believed that the city sponsored a Cinco de Mayo. It was just a misunderstanding.”

Cinco de Mayo events in Beaumont in the past have always been sponsored by the local chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), said the group’s president, Roberto Flores Sr.

“We’ve always been the ones to do Cinco de Mayo here,” Flores told The Examiner. “The city has never, never, never sponsored one. We have to put out thousands of dollars to hire the Mariachi bands, pay for the facilities, everything. The city has profited from it, though.”

Flores said that the city once allowed the celebration, which he said LULAC brought to Beaumont in 1986, to be held at Riverfront Park and did not charge the group. However, conditions have changed, he said, and now the daily fee to rent space at the park for the event is $900. In addition to park fees the city has collected in the past, permits are required for the celebration.

City Manager Kyle Hayes said the Oktoberfest celebration proposed by Getz would be under the same umbrella as Neighbors in the Park events, which he said have been going on for 20-plus years in Beaumont.

“Last Wednesday, we basically came to a consensus that each ward would receive equal funding for a Neighbors in the Park event, like events we’ve had in the past,” Hayes explained. “The consensus was that each councilperson can decide if they would like to theme their event. I believe Councilman Guidroz mentioned Cinco de Mayo.”

Ward 1 Councilman Claude Guidroz said he would like to see the city and LULAC partner up to put on Cinco de Mayo celebrations in the city, and he believes that is a plausible goal.

“If we could come together, Parks and Rec would do their part and (LULAC) could do their part,” Guidroz said. “Basically, each of the wards is going to be given a budget. Parks and recreation will run all the logistics of the event. I don’t see a problem with LULAC getting things into the celebration that would make it a traditional Cinco de Mayo. I can see where we could do it as sort of a partnership.”

LULAC’s Flores said he has spoken with Guidroz and likes the idea of a partnership between his group and the city for upcoming Cinco de Mayos.

“I think that would be a good idea,” Flores said. “I would also like to see it back at Riverfront Park.”

Guidroz said he is investigating the possibility of the partnership and of utilizing Riverfront Park as the event venue, but it is a work in progress.