The biergarten at Maplewoodstock (mark your calendars for July 9 and 10, 2016, folks) will be back for a 5th year, after a 3-2 vote by the Maplewood Township Committee on Tuesday night.
Maplewoodstock organizers Drew Dix and Gary Shippy told the TC that the biergarten, at which Maplewoodstock sells beer and wine in conjunction with the South Orange Elks Club, has been profitable for all but its first year, with 2015 being its most profitable year.
Dix said that there have been no reported alcohol-related incidents related to the biergarten or festival, and that “as a matter of fact we have invested in increased security over the years based on the behest of the police department…. We’re happy to do that.”
Dix said that the biergarten had “proven very beneficial as an additional revenue stream” (it now accounts for 5% of Maplewoodstock’s revenue) and that it “provides a place for the community to gather in a controlled environment.”
As in years past, TC members Marlon K. Brownlee and India Larrier expressed their opposition to the biergarten.
Brownlee at first focused on the fact that the biergarten lost money the first year and said that Dix’s answer at that time is that the festival would spend less on security for the second year. Brownlee also said that he felt the sale of alcohol was at odds with the family-friendly atmosphere of the festival. “In my mind, Maplewoodstock is a wonderful family friendly event… I’m always touched by seeing little kids running around,” said Brownlee, who added, “My belief that in this kind of environment it is not appropriate to sell alcohol.” He also said that he felt the cordoned off drinking area sent the wrong message to children, making alcohol more attractive as a forbidden fruit.
Dix countered that the biergarten lost money in the first year — along with other profit centers for the festival — due to a heat wave that brought 102-degree Fahrenheit temperatures throughout the weekend that year.
Larrier said that she concurred with Brownlee and noted additionally that the biergarten is in close proximity to the Maplewood Library.
Deputy Mayor Nancy Adams defended the biergarten. “It’s taken the incentive away from people to bring their own,” said Adam, thereby making the rest of the festival “more family friendly.”
Ultimately, the TC voted 3-2 to allow Maplewoodstock to apply to Trenton for the license, with Mayor Vic DeLuca, Adams and Greg Lembrich voting in favor of the biergarten and Larrier and Brownlee voting against.
Find out more about the 13th annual Maplewoodstock Festival, which will take place in Maplewood’s Memorial Park on July 9 and 10, 2016, at maplewoodstock.com.