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Seminole okays beer for Pow Wow

Beer will be on tap at the Seminole Pow Wow Festival in March if someone volunteers to sell it.

Alcohol has been banned at the annual event for several years, partly because of problems with underage drinkers and partly because selling it was not profitable.

But Tuesday, City Council members unanimously agreed that beer can be sold as long as the sales are carefully monitored to prevent minors from drinking.

"I know we can handle it responsibly," said Doc Kinsey, chairman of the steering committee that plans the festival.

Several non-profit organizations are interested in selling beer to raise money, Kinsey said.

The seller has to provide insurance and assume all liability. In exchange, it gets 90 percent of the profit, with the rest going to the festival committee.

There was not much to split up when the Greater Seminole Area Chamber of Commerce handled beer sales, Vice Mayor Carol Hajek said.

"It's not profitable," she told Kinsey. "You'll have to find someone who is willing to do this and not make any money."

But Kinsey said he is confident that beer sales could bring in several thousand dollars. That was part of the reason why the steering committee asked the council for permission to bring beer back to the festival.

The other reason?

"People just like to have a beer with their chicken," Kinsey said.

The festival started in 1967 as a chicken dinner fund-raiser for the Fire Department. Grilled chicken remains a staple of the event, which usually draws thousands of people to the city recreation center.

The next festival is March 21. Between now and then, a non-profit organization will be chosen as the beer seller, Kinsey said.

"I don't think we'll have any problems with it," City Council member Paul Trexler said, adding that closely monitored beer sales at the recent Clearwater Jazz Holiday "worked out very well."