Beer garden legal, but is it right?

By John Peters

September 19, 2013

Sometimes just because a person can do something doesn’t mean they should.

Such would seem to be the case with a planned beer garden and outdoor dining and drinking area slated for operation in downtown Mount Airy during both Mayberry Days and the Autumn Leaves Festival.

We understand this is on private property — at the corner of North Main and West Oak streets — and the folks involved have very legal right to do this. We also understand that the best time to attempt making money downtown is when the crowds are largest — and there is no larger crowds locally than those that turn out for Mayberry Days and the Autumn Leaves Festival.

Still, it’s sad to see this happen, and sometimes looking out for the greater community is a little more important than make a few quick dollars. For nearly five decades those who operate the Autumn Leaves Festival have managed to keep alcohol sales from being part of the event as a strategy to ensure the gathering is as family friendly and trouble-free as possible.

As for Mayberry Days, except for the lovable drunk Otis, can one imagine anything more the antithesis of the idea of Mayberry than a beer garden?

The two business owners who are putting on the event say that times are changing, that the community has to keep up with other festivals and fairs, and this is one of those things Mount Airy needs to keep up, to draw people downtown.

Given the fact that Mayberry Days may have a record attendance this year, and that the Autumn Leaves Festival organizers say the festival brings in an estimated 200,000 visitors and is still ranked among the top events in the South, it would seem these two events are doing quite nicely in finding ways to adapt to changing times and draw people downtown.

Again, the owners of this property are well within their legal rights, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. We would hope, for the sake of their neighbors and the greater downtown area, that they change their mind.