Monday, April 28, 2014

Here is a rough sketch of the Boomtown Ball site plan for May 25, with explanation.

(April 29 update: All about the bands slated to perform on the outdoor stage)

To understand how the Boomtown Ball on May 25 is to be done, it helps to be acquainted with Indiana's Alcohol & Tobacco Commission.

The ATC licenses and regulates any business that serves beverage alcohol. Integral to the ATC's operational philosophy is the concept of a floor or site plan -- basically, a map showing the ATC one's everyday bricks and mortar business layout.

The very same idea applies to temporary serving permits for temporary events, and so when the idea of the Boomtown Ball was being minted this winter, and the decision was made to include alcoholic beverages as part of the plan, the range of possibilities immediately narrowed. If alcoholic beverages are to be vended, in this case with NABC acting as master caterer and procurer of the requisite supplemental catering permit, certain fundamentals must be observed.

As the entity applying for the permit, it is NABC's (read: my) job to follow the ATC rules and be sure the pertinent legalities are observed, and it's something we take seriously. Hence, the site plan pictured above, which was submitted with the standard application. The beverage vending will be done by NABC and a team of downtown ATC permit holders; stay tuned for further information.

An event like this must be enclosed, generally by being fenced, with the familiar orange or green plastic utility fencing being the ATC's preference. There can be various points of entry and exit, but alcoholic beverages can not be carried in or out, meaning there usually must be personnel manning these points (as city police do during the Bicentennial Park concert series). If the greater expanse of the fenced grounds is to be occupied by all ages, then the bar area itself must be enclosed and allow only persons 21 and over to enter. Those of legal age can purchase beverages at the bar, and carry them into the all-ages area.

From the inception of Boomtown Ball, Houndmouth (the band), Production Simple (the music agent) and the city conceived of a Sunday street festival with music, the Flea Off Market's diverse booths, and both food and beverages. The original idea was to locate it on Market and Pearl Streets, but this proved to be too difficult a fit, for two reasons: First, from the standpoint of the ATC's licensing needs, and second, because it would have blocked access to existing independent businesses located on these two streets, which needed to have the opportunity to participate if desired.

It was suggested that the event be moved to the vicinity of the farmers market, and as the diagram shows, this radically simplifies the required layout, as well as impacting far fewer local businesses; in fact, the shops on the ground floor of the Odd Fellows building and near them on Bank Street will not be blocked by booths within the adjacent enclosure, will have full access near the event entry portals, and should nicely benefit from the patronage of the event's attendees, should they choose to open.

Meanwhile, current ATC permit holders (Habana Blues, the Frenchman, Toast and maybe La Bocca, if it's up and running again) on The Grand's short block of Market Street can conduct their business normally while drawing increased trade from the Boomtown Ball attendees, especially as ticket holders for the Houndmouth indoor show at The Grand begin arriving. Pearl Street remains open, not shut off and with businesses blocked, as it would have been at first.

I'm explaining these things in this forum for a variety of reasons.

To help spread the word.

To familiarize readers with some of the esoteric factors that lie behind the plans for events like the Boomtown Ball.

To reiterate that New Albany's indie business community downtown is "cool" of its own merit.

To note that on the 25th, there'll be ample opportunity for these downtown businesses to shine for what should be good crowds.

To ask for better overall communication between the various downtown stakeholders, all of the time.

As observed previously, there are two meetings scheduled this coming week: Sons and daughters of the former Merchant Mixer on Tuesday, and drinks purveyors on Wednesday (if you are among the latter and wish to attend, please let me know).

At both of these gatherings, a prime topic of discussion will be how to make localism as much a part of the Boomtown Ball event as humanly possible, both on the day of the show itself and the week preceding it, which we're calling Houndmouth Week as a working title, or some such.

Please stay tuned, and I'll tell you what I know, as I know it.

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