Jul 142009
Authors: Madeline Novey

Saying they love the beer and celebrations but hate the typical by-product of debauchery, about 100 downtown business owners have signed a petition to either make significant changes to the structure of the annual Colorado Brewers’ Festival, or move it out of downtown.

Store owners said their greatest grievance with the traditional downtown celebration of local breweries, food and music is the disruptive behavior of Brewfest attendees — violence, vomiting and urination near their storefronts. The downtown congestion caused by the thousands of festival goers tops the complaint list as well.

But these behaviors have become more than just a nuisance, owners said; they’ve turned away customers and congested the downtown area.

“(The business owners’) main point is this is such a great town and a great festival,” said Justine Reed, owner of the White Balcony and creator of the petition. “We want to be known for great beers and not bad behavior.”

But the businesses don’t want to change the way people celebrate.

“This isn’t that we want less drinking, we’re not saying that,” Reed said. “It’s that (Brewfest) has really outgrown its location.”

Several people, including Life of the Party Owner Talley Pat, who signed the petition because she said the festival kept her regular customers away, suggested moving Brewfest to Civic Center Park.

DBA Executive Director David Short said the problem is that people think it’s easy to move Brewfest –/which is one of the Downtown Business Association’s largest fundraising events of the year, footing most of the bill for the Fort Collins Jazz Festival — out of downtown.

Reed and Short both agreed that the next step in solving the problem is to hold meetings with the DBA, business owners and the public to discuss the pros and cons of Brewfest and brainstorm possible solutions.

Several participating breweries agreed that public discussion is necessary to strike a balance in the community.

“Festival events are dynamic by nature and should change over time,” said New Belgium Spokesman Bryan Simpson in an e-mail to the Collegian. “There seems to be consensus that Brewfest needs fixing, but the problems are deeper than just location. Taking the emphasis off consumption by giving Brewfest a higher purpose and some deeper content might make for a more interesting day. Likely, it will take rethinking the event on many levels.”

One student and four-year Brewfest attendee Jessica Rota said the event acts as a great way to show off Old Town and attract tourists each year.

Rota, a senior double major in marketing and psychology, said the festivities can present “trouble for the businesses,” adding that if Brewfest was moved she would still attend.

“I like (Brewfest) in Old Town she said,” but later added, “I’d be a little bit sad to see it go.”

News Managing Editor Madeline Novey can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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