GREENVILLE — As the Tivoli Garden Beer Tent will not be held during this year’s 49th annual Danish Festival, downtown businesses and the city prepare for where festival goers might spend their time.
Danish Festival Executive Director Pamela Jorae stated it was declining numbers that caused the event to be canceled.
“The Danish Festival Board of Directors would like to inform our patrons that due to declining revenues and attendance, the Danish Festival Inc. has decided to suspend Tivoli Gardens for 2013,” Jorae said.
However, she said is uncertain if this is a permanent change to the schedule.
“We will review this decision and all feedback when planning for the 2014 festival,” she stated.
Winter Inn owner Barry Thornton said Danish Festival weekend — the third weekend in August — is the busiest weekend for his business, with last year being a record high.
In the past, the normal routine for his customers during that weekend would be to leave his establishment between 11 p.m. and midnight to head to the beer tent. He speculates those customers will now stay downtown.
“(The beer tent) was a big tradition in Greenville,” Thornton said. “It’s too bad (it won’t be here).”
Thornton is looking to prepare for the activity shift and exploring ideas on how to handle the bigger crowd.
One idea he has is opening Winter Inn’s patio area and include a bar and music outside.
“I think it will be good for businesses,” he said of the people staying downtown. “I am looking forward to (Danish Festival) weekend.”
Huckleberry’s Restaurant owner Linda Huckleberry hopes beer tent patrons meet with friends downtown.
“In the past the Danish Festival beer tent has affected our late night business,” Huckleberry said. “We accepted that, as it was for the overall good of the festival. We don’t know what to expect this year. We hope patrons will visit all the pubs in downtown Greenville and enjoy visiting with family and friends.”
With the possibility of the activity shift staying downtown, City Manager George Bosanic said there is a concern for what complaints might arise for the Greenville Department of Public Safety.
“There is a concern about the potential public safety issues,” Bosanic said, noting many people would be downtown with the booths and more after hours. However, it is something being discussed within the department.
Bosanic said the Tivoli Garden Beer Tent is completely run by the Danish Festival Board of Directors and the city does not receive any profit from the event.
Many readers expressed their opinions about the cancellation of the beer tent on The Daily News Facebook page with split opinions.
“That’s too bad,” Christine Frisbey said. “A lot of people would meet there with old friends and family. Sometimes, this is the only time of the year they get together.”
Linda Daniels Killian agreed by stating the Tivoli Gardens Beer Tent was “comfortable.”
“I do not believe it is about getting drunk to catch up with old friends, but a place everyone is comfortable with and specific enough to make meeting up easier,” she said. “I guess another one of a kind will be needed.”
Kristin Kimberly said she thinks the decision will keep people away from Greenville.
“Wow! Not sure that’s a good decision as many out-of-towners do come to Greenville only because of this and probably will not be spending their money in Greenville now,” Kimberly said. “Very sad.”
Michael DeJong said he is OK with the idea of the event being canceled.
“It’s alright with me,” DeJong said. “Still plenty to enjoy.”
Aaron Petersen agreed stating there are other options for people.
“(The) Danish Festival beer tent was always horrible anyway,” Petersen said. “The DJs were never all that great, and the beer was too expensive. Trufant’s beer tent is half the cost, and twice as fun. Plus they serve cans, not flat keg beer. I won’t miss it. Just means more time to hang out at the softball fields.”