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Longview alcohol ordinance debuts with evening concert series at Heritage Plaza

By Jessica Ferguson
March 21, 2012 at 10 p.m.

A new concert series beginning Friday in Heritage Plaza will be the first to take advantage of a city ordinance allowing the sale and consumption of alcohol in the downtown park.

Called Downtown Live!, the series will replace the noon Friday brown bag lunch series that's enlivened downtown since 2005.

"We chose to start a nighttime series so that more people could attend," said Elaine Reynolds, vice president of downtown development with the Longview Chamber of Commerce.

Though the lunch series had weekly turnouts of as many as 200 people to listen to live music, eat a sandwich and shop among vendors who set up an outdoor market, it collided with work schedules for many would-be attendees.

"People would approach me saying that they could not attend because of work, and we want them to be able to take part as well," Reynolds said.

Downtown Live! will start at 5 p.m. each Friday evening through April 20, except for Good Friday. Like the lunch series, the Friday evening series will be in conjunction with the Downtown Market, which will begin at 4 p.m. weekly. The markets will close at 7 p.m.

Unlike the lunch series, Downtown Live! will only have four shows so it doesn't conflict with Alley Fest, another downtown event organized by the One Hundred Acres of Heritage Main Street Advisory Board.

That popular weekend-long event this year is moving to May for the first time instead of its usual June date. The change aims to take advantage of cooler weather.

The introduction of beer and wine sales will be another first. Downtown Live! will operate under a city ordinance passed in November that allows the sale and consumption of alcohol in parks within the central business district with a permit. Because alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages will be for sale at the event, no outside beverages will be allowed. Attendees are, however, allowed to bring food.

"This will be a controlled environment with a licensed caterer selling beer, wine, water and soft drinks," Reynolds said.

Jim Tachias, financial adviser with Wells Fargo Advisors, is sponsoring the event. He said the sale of alcohol under the new ordinance would help the event to attract more people to enjoy downtown.

"The pulse of any community is what's going on downtown," he said.

Downtown Live! is one of many projects produced by the advisory board. All events support the board's main goals of improving the quality of life in downtown and promoting the community.

"We want to re-introduce downtown," said Kim Droege, board chairwoman. "Downtown is on its way. We're ready to push and take downtown to the next level."



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