City weighs more alcohol-related events at park

Miamisburg allowed alcohol at Riverfront Park under a pilot program this summer.

City officials are proceeding with plans for more events that involve alcoholic beverage sales at Riverfront Park, a site viewed as a key draw for Miamisburg’s downtown.

Those actions follow the first Miami Valley Brewgrass Festival, a pilot event for permitting alcohol sales and charging admission at the 10-acre park.

An event this fall by an athletic boosters group to raise funds for a $5 million outdoor facilities project at Miamisburg High School while paying tribute to the district’s 92-year-old football stadium is being discussed. Such events will be evaluated on a “case-by-case basis,” said City Manager Keith Johnson.

“There’ll be other requests,” Johnson said. “Right now the biggest limiting issue in the park hosting events is availability.”

Most dates for weekend events this year at the park, a focal point of the city’s strategic plan for downtown development, have already been booked, said Debbie McLaughlin, the city’s director of parks and recreation.

The June 21 Brewgrass concert organized by Miamisburg native Max Nunery has city officials feeling upbeat about its potential. The concert featuring national, regional and local bluegrass acts attracted hundreds and nearly broke even in its first year despite a pounding storm that caused flooding throughout southwest Ohio.

Miamisburg’s contract mandated that it recoup all of its costs, McLaughlin said.

“From our perspective, we felt that it was a good start for an event to grow over time,” she said. “We didn’t have any concerns with the organization or the structure of the event. It was simply impacted by weather.”

Said Councilwoman Sarah Clark, “If it hadn’t rained, I have no doubt we would have made money that day.”

Clark said other southwest Ohio jurisdictions have approached Nunery about moving the event next year, but she noted he plans at this point to keep it in Miamisburg.

Other city officials – likening it to the inaugural Lebanon Blues Festival that just marked its 17th year - are optimistic that the event can in the future attract a larger following and be profitable.

“Having been to the Lebanon event, I know it can grow,” said Councilman Mike McCabe.

The park also is expected to be the site of an Oct. 24 event sponsored by the Miamisburg Football Alumni Association. The group plans the event, set for the Saturday after the last football game scheduled at Harmon Field, as a fundraiser for Campus Quest, the school district’s privately funded outdoor athletic facilities project at the high school.

“They want to make it a family-oriented kind of event and open to the whole community,” said Doug Brown, president of the booster group.

While plans are tentative at this point, the concept involves charging admission for a night that will include children’s activities, corn hole tournaments, beer sales and broadcasting the Ohio State-Rutgers football game on a replica of the video board planned for the new complex, Brown said.

It may also include some raffle-type activities and possibly live music, he said.

Before the city would approve the proposal, whether an admission can be charged and alcohol sold at an event where one of the main attractions is broadcasting an NCAA football game are issues that must be addressed, McLaughlin said.

“That will determine if either of those can take place,” she said. “That is contingent upon the NCAA’s restrictions and guidelines that they may have.”

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