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Local law enforcement deems first Street Fair with booze a 'success'

The Downtown Fargo Street Fair brings in thousands. Forum file photo

FARGO — The first Downtown Fargo Street Fair that allowed public drinking has been deemed a success by local law enforcement agencies and the organization that put on the event.

Jessica Schindeldecker, a public information officer for Fargo Police Department, said the street fair wasn't affected by overconsumption or over-serving. She said there were no open container citations issued during the event, which was held Thursday, July 19, through Saturday, July 21.

Additionally, Schindeldecker said the department didn't get any calls related to the event at all, and the amount of calls during the week of the event was down from the previous week.

Although impressed, Fargo Police Lt. Christopher Helmick said he's not very surprised with the outcome.

In several planning meetings Helmick and his department had with the Downtown Community Partnership (DCP), the organizer of the fair, prior to the event, the DCP made it clear that they didn't want it to turn into a pub crawl, he said.

"I would say we were concerned before the event because anytime alcohol is involved, it seems there's an increase in the potential for problems," Helmick said.

One of the downtown resource officers that worked the event said it went well overall. There were a couple incidents where people were confused about the boundaries, but nothing that warranted a ticket, Helmick added.

"Because we had a good partnership with the DCP and the five approved liquor vendors, it really helped with the success. In the future, we're hoping the next street fair is just as good," he said.

DCP President Melissa Rademacher said the results of the first street fair with booze were exactly what she expected.

"I knew we could do it and we had a lot of things put in place. We did a lot of research and chose the right partners," she said. "It's proving a point that we can all be responsible. One beer doesn't mean public drunkenness. Fargo is known as one of the 'drunkest cities in America,' but we can also be responsible."

Rademacher said people stopped and thanked her all three days to express how much they enjoyed themselves.

For attendees interested in having a drink at next year's event, the temporary liquor license allocated to the DCP will expire by year's end, as per the sunset clause in the law that was passed in June. Rademacher has supplied a report of the street fair liquor findings to the city's Liquor Control Board with the goal of retaining her organization's license for years to come.