Local view: Fourth Fest's ban on carry-in water is there for good reason
I own a tavern in Mahtowa that hosts the annual Highway 61 Folks Festival in August. Last week, the News Tribune published an Opinion page and a front-page article about Duluth's Fourth Fest, and the fact that bottled water wasn't allowed into Ba...
I own a tavern in Mahtowa that hosts the annual Highway 61 Folks Festival in August.
Last week, the News Tribune published an Opinion page and a front-page article about Duluth's Fourth Fest, and the fact that bottled water wasn't allowed into Bayfront Festival Park. However, the newspaper failed to answer why bottled water wasn't allowed.
Vendors are not to blame. The city could easily grant an exemption for bottled water, and vendors selling bottled water would probably then be replaced by other vendors selling other products.
The dirty little secret I've learned after hosting a large-scale music event is that
98 out of 100 festival-goers are upstanding, music-loving, regular, law-abiding citizens, but that the other 2 percent make rules like banning water bottles necessary.
I've seen people bring water bottles to my festival after they were dumped out and refilled with vodka or gin. They'd then purchase a single Coke and proceed to get trashed and become a public problem. I'm talking about teenagers, chronic trouble-makers and even individuals who become generally dangerous when intoxicated.
Did anyone at Fourth Fest really want the kids there to see that? Or to see other kids being used by parents or the adults they were with to help smuggle in illegal items? Sadly, that happens, too.
No profiling is allowed, so security can't be expected to open every container for a sniff or taste (like anyone wants that to happen) to try to keep the public safe.
Hey, John Q. Public, is $10 for water really too much to spend for a family event of the magnitude of Fourth Fest?
Those who complain about this small inconvenience typically are the first ones to bring lawsuits against property owners if an intoxicated person falls on them or gets into a fight and injures someone around them, claiming it's the property owners' responsibility to ensure safety.
Finally, there's the unspoken element in all this. If you were a terrorist who wanted to wreak havoc on an American city, what better day to strike than the Fourth of July, our most patriotic of days? Imagine the evening news coverage if a six pack of water bottles was refilled with kerosene, spilled into a large crowd of tightly gathered people and set ablaze to the screaming rants of a euphoric terrorist. Nobody talks about that sort of thing because nobody wants to terrify citizens, especially when a simple rule like "no water bottles" can prevent the problem.
I hope this gives readers a little insight into the mindset of someone trying to run a large-scale event.
Rob Mohelski owns the Mahtowa Tavern, which hosts the annual Highway 61 Folks Festival and Songwriters Contest, scheduled this year Aug. 6-8.