The city of Palmetto has made changes to this year’s Fourth of July celebration in Sutton Park. The biggest change from last year: There will not be an admission fee.
The Community Redevelopment Agency, in more of an attempt to raise donations for local food pantries, charged $5 for admission or one canned food item. According to Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant, all entertainment, including the headliner Smash Mouth, will be free this year.
“Even though it was a nominal fee last year, I think the decision to charge last year did deter a lot of people from coming out,” said Bryant.
The CRA also spent $17,000 to surround the concert area with a fence. Bryant said it’s an unnecessary expense, “and we don’t want to do that again.”
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Fourth of July Festival: Food and craft vendors available throughout. Local rock band Big Daddy at 5 p.m. Smash Mouth takes stage at 7 p.m. until dark. Fireworks to commence shortly after dark.
Beer and wine will be sold
The decision to sell alcohol at the annual Fourth of July festival is always a divisive battle amongst city commissioners, and this year was no exception.
According to CRA Director Jeff Burton, the event was going to be alcohol free because no one had applied for a special function permit when the commission approved the festival last month. The Rotary Club, which raises money to provide Palmetto students with scholarships, filed for the application after the initial vote.
The matter went back to the commission on Monday night, with commissioner Tambra Varnadore and Tamara Cornwell voting against alcohol sales yet again. However, the application passed 3-2 to sell beer and wine.
“It’s always a tough call,” said Bryant. “On one hand, if you don’t provide it and don’t have control, people will bring it in with coolers and that creates a law enforcement control issue.”
Final details are being worked out for the festival, but Burton said there will be food vendors, kid activities, the Smash Mouth concert and then fireworks over the Manatee River. Local rock band Big Daddy will open for Smash Mouth.
Bryant said the commission would revisit the annual event at a workshop later this month in an attempt to gain more consistency with how alcohol sales are handled in the future.