GREENVILLE — After two years of operating outside of the city limits, the Tivoli Beer Gardens will be moving directly into the heart of downtown Greenville for this year’s Danish Festival.
The Greenville City Council voted Tuesday evening to approve a one-year request from the Danish Festival and Greenville Rotary Club, which oversees and runs the Tivoli Beer Gardens, respectively, to move the event from its previous location at Klackle Orchards in Eureka Township to an open lot downtown.
The property at 116 W. Cass St. is an empty grass lot owned by Gary Beiker, who has given permission for the property to be used Friday, Aug. 19, and Saturday, Aug. 20.
The Gardens’ festivities, which include wine coolers, beer and food, would begin at 3 p.m. and conclude at midnight with live music featured at 8:30 p.m. on both nights.
The move is being made to establish a better connection with the festival itself, according to Rotary Club President Bob Ferrentino.
“We’ve run Tivoli Gardens for the last two years at Klackle Orchards and Natalie and Steve Klackle have been nothing but tremendous to work with,” he said. “But we had some concerns when we were out there, and one of them, quite frankly, was a feeling of disconnectedness from the festival itself.”
In speaking with members of the community, Ferrentino said members of the Rotary Club have received complaints ranging from the event being “too far or too dark.”
Klackle Orchards is two-and-a-half miles west on M-57 from N. Lafayette Street, the main stretch of road in which the majority of Danish events are held, which Ferrentino said prohibits a number of festivalgoers from attending the attraction.
“Potentially, there was a little bit of a concern with M-57 and traffic late at night,” Ferrentino said. “I think that the (new) location is ideal to make it really, truly a part of the Danish Festival.”
The council voted unanimously on the decision, with Councilman Larry Moss absent, on the relocation recommendation from City Manager George Bosanic.
“Essentially, the Tivoli Gardens, also known as the beer tent, has been proposed to be moved to this grassy vacant lot, but with it comes some opportunities and some concern,” Bosanic said. “When you have a function such as this, volume tends to increase, both from the music that is played and the patrons that are partaking in libation. As a result, there tends to be some folks who don’t appreciate that very much.”
Bosanic said additional safety concerns with the influx of patrons downtown in the later hours was also addressed between the city and the Danish Festival Board.
“With this many people having this kind of fun, some people may decide to carry it a bit further, so security is a concern,” he said. “We’ve talked to the Danish Festival about increasing public safety, and there’s been an agreement there.”
According to Danish Festival Director Pam Jorae, private security, in addition to that hired by the Rotary Club, will also be in place through the festival.
“Downtown has its own security that we hire. We’ll be heavily secure,” she said.
According to Ferrentino, in the last two years, there have been zero incidents of patrons causing issues at the Tivoli Beer Gardens on site.
“People who looked too inebriated were spotted by security,” he said. “They got rides home and left their cars in the parking lot. We had one incident of someone getting a little crazy on M-57, but it was handled quickly by police.”
Bosanic also proposed, as has been done in past years when the Tivoli Beer Gardens was located at the Greenville Armory, that the festival receive relief from the city’s nuisance ordinance in connection with the Tivoli Gardens, which City Council members approved unanimously.
“As you know with the Danish Festival, all ordinances pretty much just go out the window,” Bosanic said. “With 50 to 60 thousand people in the city, it gets kind of crazy. We just do the best that we can, but we also have to be reasonable about the ambiance.”
Bosanic said with the new location only being a block away from residential areas, as well as residents living in the second stories of commercial units, it is understandable that the city is likely to receive some complaints.
“I am sure on Monday my phone is going to be full of messages from people in the area complaining about it,” he said. “But what we’re going to do is gage how much of a concern it is, and in the future, we’ll weight the success of it. We’re taking a bit of a chance, but the opportunities, we feel, far outweigh the risks. I think we should try this for a year.”
Questions from members of the council included whether or not the empty lot would provide enough space, and how many patrons typically frequent the event.
According to Ferrentino, the lot will be of sufficient size. The tent that is used is smaller than the actual lot itself.
“With the tent we had at Klackles, it had a capacity of 800 to 900 people,” he said. “The tent at the new location will be no larger than that one, and the size of the tend does not fill the entire lot. Public Safety and I will work together to arrive at a reasonable number of what we can hold, and our security in place will perform a count each night.”
In relating to the residents of Greenville, Councilwoman Jeanne Cunliffe said she hopes residents will be understanding of the noise during the festival.
“Living on Grove and Clay streets, I’m sure I’ll complain, but that’s something you get used to in the summertime living downtown,” she said.