Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Drinking Town With an Event Problem

While he doesn't mean to be, Oshkosh Mayor Steve Cummings is a really funny guy.  Almost every Common Council meeting he says something that just makes me laugh--even though he intends to be very serious in making those comments.  You may recall the Mayor demanding that the name of the Oshkosh Senior Center be changed because the term "Senior" makes him and people his generation feel old.  He is also the man that claimed the organizer of the Downtown Pub Crawl was "holding the city hostage" by refusing to pay special event permit fees.  He's the guy that decided that a Mayor's Breakfast not tied to the EAA Airventure would be much more popular with "the locals"--resulting in the immediate (and not surprising) death of the event.  And he continues to push for the "celebration of the lakefly" with public art displays and festivals.

The Mayor had me laughing again during last night's council meeting.  As discussion turned to forming a "working group" to discuss special event fees (not a "committee" which would require a quorum to meet, public posting of meeting times, holding open meetings and publishing minutes of what was discussed for public inspection) Cummings asked that the group take look at alcohol service at special events and "events that revolve around drinking".

Obviously, Hizzoner is referring to the two days a year of Pub Crawl--but I would put MOST of what goes on in "Event City" as "revolving around drinking".  When you go to Waterfest, what are the two longest lines?  One is for the women's bathrooms, the other is for the beer stands.  The same goes for Irishfest and Oktoberfest--I mean, who's going to outdrink the Irish and the Germans?  Consider that even though the ice was too dangerous to hold an actual fishing tournament this year, Battle on Bago still fired up the beer tent in Menominee Park last month.  To be perfectly honest, who is going to the non-fireworks nights of Sawdust Days to not drink?  And what is always the largest tent at every church picnic in Oshkosh?  The one that serves the beer.

Heck, two of the most popular events in the city "for locals" exclusively deal with alcohol--Hops and Props and Winefeast.  And as anyone that has attended them can tell you, at Country USA and Rock USA the music on the stage is of a secondary--or tertiary--concern to those in attendance.  All they care about is getting drunk and staying drunk for the entire run of the festival.  If he were to tour the campground at Ford Festival Park, I'm pretty sure Mayor Cummings would want that place condemned and shut down.

To steal a line from Billy Currington, Oshkosh is "A drinkin' town with an event problem".

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