Open Liquor Ordinance Approved

A hotly debated topic for the On The Waterfront festival has been settled. One thing is for sure, this year's event will be much different than in years past. that comes as good news to bar owners.

In 3 weeks, Downtown Rockford will be filled with people. At On The Waterfront, festival goers will be able to walk from the bar out into the festival grounds with an open container. This is going to be unique to Rockford's festival: very few communities have an open container policy.

Downtown bar owners and On The Waterfront have been trying to come to a compromise for months. OTW's concerns? Not-for-profits losing money and liability. Bar owners have agreed to keep the prices consistent with those of On The Waterfront. And both OTW and bar owners will have to accept any additional risks.

"We, as business owners, have to take out insurance," Chris Wachowiak, Krypto Music Lounge owner, said. "I believe Waterfront will also be taking out extra insurance/liability. I don't know if the price will increase, but I know our prices will increase."

"We have been talking with the insurance company to say 'trust us, trust our control on alcohol'," said Kim Casey, OTW board chair. "Trust downtown businesses who are going to name us as additional insurance, and take a look at this when we finish the festival to see what has happened."

In this agreement, there is what's called a sunset clause. After the festival, both sides will review the liquor ordinance and then make adjustments. If everything goes well and all parties are happy, the City Council will have to vote on the matter again. That could be a vote to permanently change the way the festival is run.