HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Hattiesburg is considering changing its alcohol ordinance to include an additional park as a place vendors can sell wine and beer at festivals.
City council members are considering adding Chain Park to the "downtown area" approved for the sale and consumption of beer and wine for special events, like festivals.
Organizers with the Hattiesburg Food Festival said they had major issues trying to sell beer in the park at their event last October. Derrian Moye, known as "Mr. Hattiesburg" and founder of the Hattiesburg Food Festival, said despite having a Mississippi Department of Revenue permit to sell beer and wine, vendors weren't able to sell it, and the festival took a financial hit.
"We have to pay for security," Moye said. "You have to pay all of those city fees, state fees, and so (when) we couldn't basically sell the beer, we kind of went in the hole a little. The mayor made it clear that if the beer was sold versus us paying a $100 or $200 fine, they were going to shut the park down completely. We didn't want to take that option, obviously. We were kind of stuck."
Moye said Hattiesburg's 19th Annual Black History Parade and Picnic on Feb. 25 must be held in Town Square Park. While he said it is a great space, it's a much smaller venue.
"It's going to be jam-packed because it's a smaller place, but this is the only place we could go to sell beer," he said.
Moye said Chain Park is an ideal location for festivals because it's a large space, ADA compliant for those with disabilities and doesn't require street closures. He said he would love to see alcohol sales allowed there.
"Of course it would help us tremendously," he said.
The Hattiesburg City Council is set to vote on the ordinance change at its meeting Tuesday.