New ordinance allows open containers during approved events

Aggieville prepares for Fake Patty's Day 2018. (Archive photo by Conrad Kabus | Collegian Media Group)

Editor’s Notes: A quote in this article has been fixed from “Eagle Showdown” to the correct “Aggieville Showdown.” The Collegian apologizes for this error.

The Manhattan City Commission passed an ordinance to allow open containers during licensed events in Aggieville, downtown Manhattan, City Park and Twin Oaks Sports Complex.

Dennis Cook, the Aggieville Business Association director, said the ordinance — which passed on Dec. 21, 2021 — only applies during approved events.

“It will be specific times, and those have to be applied for at least 30 days out. And if you have everything all committed as far as the proper caterers, et cetera, it still goes before the city commission,” Cook said. “The city commission, every time, can say yes or no. So, it’s not a blank check for us to do anything.”

Cook said the organization in charge of an approved event must maintain a safe environment.

“It has to be a licensed caterer, and then they have to have a perimeter set up that can be monitored,” Cook said. “They are responsible for everyone of all ages inside that perimeter.”

Because the ordinance allows larger spaces than beer gardens, Cook said it would allow families with children to be together during events.

“We can have an open space where everyone can move around,” Cook said. “You have to be 21 years old to consume, but you don’t have to be of age to be in there. So it opens up the space to make a much more friendly atmosphere.”

Stuart Marshall, a Manhattan resident, said the ordinance is beneficial for the community for a similar reason.

“I think it will be more fun at festivals because you can hang out outside and see more people,” Marshall said. “There’ll be more space to meet people, so I think it’s a good thing for Aggieville and for Manhattan.”

While Cook said this is beneficial for Aggieville, he said there would be an adjustment period.

“We’re going to learn a lot here this spring,” Cook said. “We have two events: March 19 is St. Patrick’s Day, and then April 2, we’re bringing back the Aggieville Showdown, which is the cattle drive that we did last spring. And both of those are applying for the open container. Those two will be kind of our guinea pigs to see what works and what doesn’t work.”

Once those events and others take place, Cook said he believes the community will recognize the benefits of the ordinance.

“I think by the time we get around to the third or fourth time we do this, everybody will start to really see the opportunities,” Cook said. “But we have to get through a couple of basic events first. Once the weather turns nice and we’ve got a couple of these under our belts, I think we’ll start to see some other opportunities.”

According to Lauren Thomas, a Manhattan resident, she frequents Aggieville three to four times a month. She said she is curious about how the city will enforce the ordinance.

“It sounds like something that could help drive business in Manhattan,” Thomas said. “I just hope it doesn’t turn into something where people are getting drunk all over the place and ruining it for everyone else. I doubt it will, but we’ll see.”

Cook said the city commission is adamant that this will not happen. He said there are enough control measures to ensure events are safe for everyone attending.

“The first thing they want to do is make sure it doesn’t turn into some sort of a free-for-all event where they don’t have any control,” Cook said.

In addition to providing a safe environment, Cook said opportunities for events to use the ordinance would increase as Aggieville grows.

“As we redevelop it and we get a lot more green space down here in Aggieville, it’s just going to get better and better for us,” Cook said.