A request to allow open containers of alcohol on The Strip in Lake Ozark for a special event later this month drew a red flag at last week’s regular board of aldermen meeting.

A request to allow open containers of alcohol on The Strip in Lake Ozark for a special event later this month drew a red flag at last week’s regular board of aldermen meeting.

J.R. Hartenstein of Lake Ozark is organizing a sanctioned Blues & BBQ weekend from May 31-June 2, and is asking the board of aldermen to suspend the city’s ban on open containers within a specified area during the festival. He told the board that the Kansas City Barbecue Society is backing the event as official competition. Hartenstein wants The Strip closed to parking from noon to 10 p.m. June 2 from Bagnell Dam to Station Drive near Luby’s.

While aldermen welcomed the concept of a barbecue contest, they balked at allowing for open containers within the designated area. And they especially balked when Hartenstein said he planned to use local Cub and Boy Scouts to clean up trash during the 10-hour event.

Even City Attorney Roger Gibbons was taken aback.

“You’re going to have kids picking up trash during the open container time?” he asked in surprise.

Alderman Larry Buschjost, a former Scout leader himself, said “these are kids. If it were my troop, I’d say no way. You wouldn’t have my kids as street sweepers during this event.”

Jeff Van Donsel, also an alderman agreed with Buschjost.

“I don’t think it’s the proper thing do to around kids.”

The bulk of the concern, however, involved suspending the open container law.
“Why lift the open container law when we haven’t done so before, not for any other event?” Buschjost asked Hartenstein, who said people who attend these kinds of events are used to having open containers.

“Once we let loose, we’ll never get it back,” Buschjost said of suspending the open container law. “And I’m adamantly opposed to Scouts, to kids working in an alcoholic area.”

He stressed his opposition to circumventing the open container law, saying that if the city opens The Strip to one event, then it would have to open it to everyone.

Alderman Jeff Van Donsel indicated a willingness to consider the request. He noted that other venues such as ballparks allow open containers.

“There’s a difference between public drinking and public drunkenness. I think (the request) suits this type or venue,” he said. “I don’t think we’d be relinquishing anything if we allowed open containers in this situation.”
There was guarded support from Alderman Judy Neels as well.

“I think (the barbecue) is a great idea, and people have been talking about it for awhile,” she said.
However, she asked for more details and for the conflicts to be resolved before she makes a decision.
“J.R. seems uncertain about some of the details,” she noted.

Police Chief Mark Maples, who continues to be one officer short of a full force, was asked his opinion. He told the board he hasn’t changed his position on allowing opening containers, adding “but we’ve never had this event.”

Hartenstein said no alcohol would be allowed to be brought in to the secured area.
Mayor Johnnie Franzeskos said Hartenstein had not completed the application adequately, and asked the board to table a decision until the May 8 regular meeting. The board unanimously agreed.

The event
Hartenstein is organizing the Lake of the Ozarks Blues & BBQ Weekend, which will be considered by the KCBS as a state championship event featuring barbecue contests and blues music.

Activities would begin Thursday, May 31, with bars on The Strip encouraged to have live blues music. Competitors would begin check-in, setup and preparation for judging. The public would be able to enjoy the barbecue starting Saturday afternoon. The event would end about 10 p.m.

The event has secured funding from the Tri-County Lodging Association and support from many local businesses, Hartenstein said.

And so forth
•Aldermen approved a request from Burnt Ends BBQ for a caterers permit to sell liquor in a fenced-in area during the Magic Dragon Street Meet May 4-5 in a vacant lot at 1263 Bagnell Dam Blvd.

•Aldermen approved a special event request for the Oma and Noma Heritage Festival May 19.

•Heard a concern from Mike Page, Lake Ozark businessmen, about confusion involving the Expressway, Osage Beach Parkway and Bagnell Dam Blvd. He said a customer commented about the confusion trying to negotiate her way into Lake Ozark. City Administrator Dave Van Dee said improved signage was being addressed.