BROOKSVILLE —From Pat Fagan's perspective, it was a test of how his staff at Hernando County Parks and Recreation could handle a new venture for the county. The director this week was pleased to tell his bosses they passed with flying colors.
Saturday's Reggae Sunfest at Linda Pedersen Park drew a healthy crowd that seemed to enjoy the bands that performed. Food and beverage vendors did good business. And the county's first foray into selling alcohol had only one minor hitch.
"Overall, we were very pleased with it," said Fagan. "We found out that we can do these types of events in our parks and that people enjoy them. We'd like to do more."
Fagan had every intention of asking for the go-ahead for a second event in the fall at Tuesday's county commission meeting but was told to come back May 12 so that commissioners could review the results of Saturday's event.
Commissioner Jim Adkins said that even though the event posted at $8,324 profit, he had concerns over whether the county should be in the business of selling alcohol.
"There's the liability aspect and whether county employees should be doing that sort of thing," he said. "I know there are a tremendous number of people in the county that think it's a bad idea."
Fagan, who worked a booth selling tickets that allowed patrons to purchase beer and wine at the festival, said he and his staff closely monitored the crowd for any possible drunkenness. He saw only one person that needed to be cut off.
"He thanked us for doing that," Fagan said.
Recreation director Harry Johnson estimated about 2,000 people paid the $5 admission to the event. Beer sales accounted for about $3,000 in revenue. Expenses, which included band fees, liability insurance, security and miscellaneous supplies amounted to $4,535. Total revenue from gate admission, vendor space rental and alcohol sales was $12,859.
"Considering it was a first-time event, I'd say things went well,," Johnson said. Most vendors reported strong sales, and said that they would likely return to other future events.
"We learned a lot from this one," Johnson said. "There are some things we need to work on for the next one, but this time we'll have more time to sort them out."
Logan Neill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1435.