Kingsburg Divided

August 8, 2008 8:44:23 PM PDT
Kingsburg is getting ready for its crayfish and jazz festival next month, but a disagreement over serving alcohol at the event threatened to shut it down. June Hess takes her Swedish heritage very seriously. In fact, she wears Swedish clothing everyday. Hess is also a founder of the Crayfish and Jazz Festival. Hess said, "We're the only town around here that has alcohol free events, and we don't like what we see happening in some of the other towns." Hess opposed efforts by Julie Stine and the festival committee to allow outdoor alcohol consumption in downtown Kingsburg. Stine said, "To have a beer sponsor come forward ... a beer distributor and say hey yes, we'd like to give you kegs of beer and then you sell them and see what you can make ... it was great for us."

Public pressure forced Stine to dump the beer sponsor and make the event alcohol free. Last year, similar opposition mounted against a restaurant named Jonathan's. The restaurant owner wanted to serve alcohol on an outdoor patio in downtown surrounded by Swedish music. Just like the jazz festival, people challenged the diner's efforts. Event organizers hoped to transform a parking lot into an outdoor beer garden. But one local family said as long as they're in Kingsburg outdoor drinking will never allowed. Kathleen Kelley said, "They can go any of the places around here if they want to go inside and purchase alcohol. Events outside are about the family. And no! If people hold the line and stand up for what's right ... there won't be alcohol sold here." Some believe those passions are bad for business and hurting a town that's trying to attract more attention.

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