The prospect of a second annual Martha’s Vineyard Craft Beer Festival overcame a major hurdle Tuesday night when Oak Bluffs selectmen approved the one-day beer and wine permit for the event. After a lengthy discussion, the board signed off with a laundry list of conditions that must be met by Aug. 22.
If organizer Oraibi Voumard, who representing the event before town boards while founder Erin Bayer Santos is on maternity leave, pays police detail fees, receives approval from the board of health, police department, fire department, and parks commission, caps ticket sales at 1,500 and provides a detailed site plan to selectmen’s satisfaction by August 22, the event will take place on the weekend of Sept. 22 at Waban-Alley Park, from 12:30 to 5:30 pm.
At the selectmen’s meeting on June 27, Mr. Voumard faced a fusillade of criticism from the board over last year’s craft beer festival, organized by Ms. Bayer Santos, which drew more people than expected, was short on portable toilets, food, and security detail, and failed to notify abutters until days before the event. Selectman Michael Santoro said it was “the most unorganized event this town has ever seen.”
Mr. Voumard’s presentation at the June 27 meeting fell well short of selectmen’s expectations.
On Tuesday night, Police Chief Erik Blake said his department had to go to court to get paid detail fees from last year’s festival, and would not sign off unless the fee was paid well ahead of time.
“I have a long history of managing companies; I’m a reputable businessman and I care about my reputation,” Mr. Voumard said. “The first thing I did was pay all those bills.”
In a telephone conversation with The Times on Thursday, Ms. Bayer Santos said last year’s bill for scheduled details was paid ahead of time, as well. The Martha’s Vineyard Craft Beer Festival paid for details added the day of the event after being billed by the police department, she said.
Tuesday night selectman Greg Coogan commended Mr. Voumard’s efforts since the last meeting. “There are obvious mistakes last year; I think you’ve addressed these concerns and I think you will continue to,” he said.
Selectman Gail Barmakian, who cast the dissenting vote, made her displeasure clear, particularly with Ms. Bayer Santos. “I think it’s really irresponsible that the promoter hasn’t shown at all,” she said. “There’s a bad track record, and she’s not here to answer for it. There are still things not addressed. I feel like I’m rewarding prior bad behavior. This [proposal] is coming too late. This should have been done a long time ago.”
Chief Blake said he’d only received the new plan an hour prior to the meeting, and needed time to evaluate it with Sgt. Michael Marchand. He said ID verification for the event needed further scrutiny, noting only two people checked IDs at the 2016 event, which created long lines and frustrated customers. “It’s a talent to check for fake IDs,” he said. “We need to make sure the proper people are in place.”
Chief Blake did, however, approve of the security company that Mr. Voumard had contracted.
Ms. Barmakian restated concerns about the decibel level created by the local bands and DJ that were slated to play.
“A big part of this event is communication between the vendor and the patron. We don’t want people shouting at each other,” Mr. Voumard said. “We’re not putting on a concert; that’s not the focal point.” He said there would be a person specifically dedicated to monitoring the noise level.
Mr. Voumard said he was planning for 2,000 people, but expected no more than 1,500. Last year, 1,200 people showed up; only 800 were anticipated.
Selectmen set a condition that the event have a maximum of 1,500 people, which includes the 200 to 300 people from various brewers working at the event.
Addressing last year’s food shortage, Mr. Voumard said there would be five food vendors, and that “400 pounds of carbs will be provided for free.”
Parks commissioner Amy Billings told the board that her department would play an active role in the planning, pending approval of the beer and wine permit. “I hope you trust us to do our job,” Ms. Billings said. “If the chief doesn’t sign off on August 22, that’s it.”
“I think [Mr. Voumard] has made a tremendous effort to address our concerns, and I think he will continue to work to make it right,” chairman Kathy Burton said.
Selectman Michael Santoro, attending via teleconference, abstained from the vote.
In other business, town administrator Robert Whritenour said the Island Theater had been made structurally safe, according to engineers who inspected the building last week. However, Mr. Whritenour said he was “extraordinarily disappointed” that the facade had not been painted, per the court order. He said he would consult town counsel about setting a drop-dead date for the painting.
In a joint meeting with the financial and advisory committee, selectmen approved a slate of transfers to end the fiscal year. Selectmen and finance committee members gave high praise to town accountant Deborah Potter, who stepped into the breach after town accountant Arthur Gallagher died unexpectedly last June.
Editor’s note: The story was updated to clarify who runs the event and how police details were paid.