Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Woodinville to OK local wine, beer sales at city park concerts

by April 2nd, 2012

Come this summer in Woodinville, it won’t just be wineries such as Chateau St. Michele reaping the fiscal harvest of concert crowds drawn by the unbeatable combination of smooth Syrah and samba, or Cabernet and cool jazz. The Woodinville City Council is set to give final approval Tuesday night to a resolution green-lighting beverage sales by local wineries and breweries at the city’s revamped summer concert series in its landmark Wilmot Gateway Park. Through it runs the Sammamish River Trail which is used by bikers, joggers and walkers and connects to the Burke-Gilman trail.

Exceptions for designated “special civic events”
Woodinville city regulations currently forbid consumption of alcoholic beverages in city parks except for special civic events, so the ordinance would give that label to the summer concerts as part of a broader overhaul of the program. The concerts will be held at night, food sold by local restaurants, and beverages by some of the Northwest’s most highly regarded winemakers and brew masters. In February, the council approved a conceptual overhaul of the series but did not take formal action to permit wine and beer to be sold at the events.

Earlier, daytime summer concerts “very poorly attended”
Woodinville’s summer concert program had previously been at noon, in DeYoung Park and was usually “very poorly attended,” Mayor Bernie Talmas said. In contrast, nighttime July 4 blues concerts staged by the city have drawn well, suggesting a way forward for the concert series, Talmas said. City concert series backers now hope the concert series re-set – facilitated by permitting of wine, beer and food sales in Wilmot Park – will goose attendance, and complement another major summer entertainment initiative in the city beginning next year.

City to partner with local chamber, and Woodinville Wine Country
Partnering with the city on the 2012 concerts are the Woodinville Chamber of Commerce and Woodinville Wine Country, a non-profit which promotes the city’s more than 80 wineries – known globally for their crafting of varietal grapes from eastern Washington’s growing regions.

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A February 7 city staff memo to the council and an appended PowerPoint says the four weekly nighttime concerts spread across July and August will be free, with corporate sponsors, and will accent food from local restaurants as well as locally-produced wine and beer. The city will contract with bands and provide the sound system, security and clean-up. The chamber will lend branding and promotion muscle, contract with food providers and cover insurance. Woodinville Wine Country will provide equipment and infrastructure for the wine garden and promote the series to its community of Northwest wine lovers, near and far.

Paving the way for major summer festival accenting agri-tourism, starting in 2013
The partners say this summer’s new and improved city concert series will help pave the way for an ambitious annual Woodinville summer festival highlighting agri-tourism, starting in 2013. Woodinville City Council member and Deputy Mayor Liz Aspen, a former city parks commissioner, says she hopes that even with the larger summer festival coming in 2013, the re-tooled concert series “will have its own life” and continue on, rather than getting “swallowed up” by the bigger event. The concert series has always been “a gift to the city” but needs to attract a bigger audience to justify continued local government involvement, she said. Mayor Talmas said he expects the city’s summer concerts will continue in 2013 and beyond – either just one as part of the big summer festival or several including one at the festival. He said his guess is the latter, but first “everyone wants to see what happens this summer” with attendance.

One concern is preventing collisions between bikers, concert-goers
The economic benefits from visitors drawn to wineries and events in Woodinville go beyond spending on food, beverages and lodgings, to outlays for gas at local filling stations and shopping at local businesses such as Molbak’s nursery, Aspen said. However, she added, because the Sammamish River Trail runs right through Wilmot Park and bikers often move at a fast pace, it will be important that they and concert-goers put safety first to avoid collisions. Talmas agreed and said city staff and police will be checking with King County, which oversees the trail, and developing countermeasures which might include barricades or requiring bikers to dismount and walk their bikes through the park during concerts.

The bookings for the 2012 Woodinville summer concerts in Wilmot Park are to be finalized in coming months.

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