BERLIN – Town officials approved all of Berlin’s planned 2018 events this week.
The council approved a 2018 schedule of 49 special events on Monday. Six of those events, Berlin Jazz and Blues, Reggae Play Day, Small Town Throw Down, the Fiddlers Convention, Octoberfest and New Year’s Eve Ball Drop, were approved as alcohol events.
“All of these events are open to families,” Mayor Gee Williams said. “This is not rowdy time town.”
This summer, the town adopted a new policy that requires all special event requests for the coming year to be made by Sept. 1. That gives officials time to review the applications and approve a schedule in advance of the holiday shopping season so that the coming year’s events can be included on promotional materials. Ivy Wells, the town’s economic development director, said the policy had worked well.
“It encourages event promotors to really think their events through before they come to us,” she said.
Town Administrator Laura Allen agreed and said it improved the event approval process.
“I think it made it smoother and gave event organizers certainty,” she said. “It enables us to plan ahead.”
While the majority of the approved events are regular occurrences in Berlin, Wells pointed out a few changes during Monday’s meeting. The annual bathtub races, set for June 23, will be combined with the Believe in Tomorrow Children’s Foundation block party that was held for the first time in 2017.
“We’ve combined the two to make it more of an all-day event,” Wells said.
She said the block party would feature family friendly games and food and could give attendees a chance to see the bathtubs up close and take pictures before the actual races began that evening.
In 2018, Wells said the town would also be expanding its July 3 celebration. While the town typically offers fireworks at 9 p.m. on July 3, next year it will partner with the Taylor House Museum to offer an old fashioned Independence Day celebration from 1 -5 p.m.
Another new event on the 2018 schedule is Zennafest, which will take place at Stephen Decatur Park June 16. The event, according to Zenna’s Chrissy Ehrhart, will be Berlin’s first yoga and healing arts festival. In addition to a variety of yoga classes, educational talks, meditation and plant identification walks, Zennafest will include Blessing of the Wheels, the event created by resident Gussie Sholtis this year.
The six events that will involve alcohol sales are essentially the same six events that featured alcohol this year, although May Day Play Day has been reconfigured as Reggae Play Day.
“Alcohol consumption enhances these particular events,” Wells said.
Williams pointed out this was the same number of alcohol events the town had held in recent years. Wells said there was a misconception that every event in Berlin was an alcohol event even though the town actually only held a handful each year. That, she pointed out, did not prohibit the Atlantic Hotel from selling alcohol at various town events.
“The Atlantic Hotel is allowed to have a bar outside,” she said, adding that it was permitted under the establishment’s liquor license.
The council voted 3-1, with Councilman Thom Gulyas opposed, to approve the alcohol events. The council voted 4-0 to approve the events slated for parks and accept the overall 2018 event schedule.