Billy David column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Stop booze, keep ‘fest family-friendly

When it comes to a country music concert, I do have a clue. If you have country music, you have to have an over-the-top twang, ten-gallon hats, and of course you have to have a fiddle in the band.

And beer. Apparently you must have beer, too, which was flowing freely Saturday night in downtown Batesville at SpringFest.

After the sun went down, and before headliner Justin Moore showed up, out came the booze.  

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I saw the sea of Styrofoam cups.

I could smell it on people in the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd.  

When I really paid attention, I could tell some of you were just a bit too happy to be there, even before Moore belted out his first tune.

Beer is not sold at SpringFest, though the idea has been tossed around by its organizers at Panola Partnership.

 SpringFest, instead, has always been billed for more than a decade as a family-friendly event, meaning you can take the kids without fear of having to explain what they just saw and heard. And it has grown and grown over the years with the understanding that families — not partiers — are welcome on the Square.

Behind the stage, the hospitality tent for musicians is stocked with plenty of beverages, because musicians require more than just a paycheck to sing on a stage. When SpingFest was still young, the musicians were cautioned to keep their beer bottle back stage, out of sight from the public.

It was obvious Saturday night that word is out among the public that you can come and go at SpringFest with your booze, as long as it stays in the cup.

But Batesville is a conservative community, and most people understand that over time either families or the partygoers will stake out SpringFest as their territory.  

I sure hope the SpringFest organizers understand that, too. The rowdies will keep coming, and get rowdier each year, because they are looking for an excuse to drink.

(And it is only fair to acknowledge that Saturday night’s crowd, whatever their level or sobriety, was well-behaved.)

But our families were there first. We built it. We buy the barbecue sandwiches and the funnel cakes, and we haven’t demanded in eleven years to wash them down with a beer.

Stop the booze, Partnership, or put out the word for families to come during the day, when it’s still safe for my little boy.