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Festival awards contracts to run beer gardens

BY LAUREL BLACK lblack@paducahsun.com

Two local nonprofits have contracted with Barbecue on the River to run its beer gardens this year.

Family Service Society, Inc. will operate the garden in front of the festival's main stage on Water Street, while Palathinaikos Soccer Schools of West Kentucky, or PAO, will run a second, smaller garden in the parking lot of downtown Farmers' Market on North Second Street. They were announced by festival director Susie Coiner during a media event Wednesday at the Farmers' Market Pavilion.

Two other nonprofits, Balkis Temple #157 and Paducah Philanthropic Committee, bid on the opportunity to run the gardens, which serve as fundraising venues for the organizations.

"They were all fabulous," Coiner said of the applicants. "We're thrilled to be the conduit to allow these folks to raise money."

The organizations were chosen unanimously based on their history of partnering with other agencies and holding large events, their ability to provide volunteers to run the gardens, their benefit to the festival and what new ideas they offered, Coiner said.

An independent committee of three community leaders, whom Coiner emphasized have no business relationship to the Barbecue on the River Board, reviewed the proposals independently and presented their findings to voting board members Carol Gault, Valerie Pollard, Mike Karnes and Coiner. The director said in a press release that Barbecue on the River did not reveal the names of the review committee in order to ensure the review would be free from external pressure, and that their names would not be revealed now "in order to preserve the process for future years."

Coiner said public demand prompted the addition of the second beer garden. The garden in front of the main stage has long been part of the festival, but some festival attendees had expressed a wish for a quieter, less crowded place to gather.

The Family Service Society, which offers low-income families help with food, utilities, medications and other necessities, expects to serve an additional 300 families by running the garden this year, Executive Director Pam Truitt said in a news release.

PAO, a club that trains about 300 boys and girls from ages 8 to 18 in soccer skills, hopes to give more kids opportunities to travel and play the sport. The money raised at Barbecue on the River will go toward scholarships for kids who want to play, but can't afford to, President David Hargrove said.

Hargrove added that he does not have a fundraising goal for the beer garden, but "everything we can make is gravy."

The beer garden brought in an average of $30,000 for the Paducah Symphony Orchestra, which operated it for more than 15 years before Barbecue on the River ended the partnership in January. The break between the organizations ignited a public dispute that was put to rest in March, when the festival resolved to draft a contract for this year's beer garden that would allow the symphony first refusal. But the symphony board voted not to sign the new, non-negotiable contract, which asked for a $1,000 non-refundable deposit, a $4,000 rental fee and the provision of tents, tables, chairs, signage and decorating.

It also requires that the beer garden managers undergo the city-approved beverage training program, and that the organization have $5 million in insurance. Symphony Board President Roger Truitt said the new agreement would reduce the amount of money the symphony could expect to make on the event, according to Sun files.

The contract for the smaller beer garden differs from the first, Coiner said, in that it requires only a $1,500 rental fee to be paid within 10 days of the end of the festival. She said the text of the contracts will be available today on the organization's web site, bbqontheriver.org.

Contact Laurel Black, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8641, or follow @LaurelFBlack on Twitter.

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