Wednesday, April 24, 2019

UW Oshkosh graduation party is getting smaller as Molly McGuire's drops out of annual beer gardens

Photo by Miles Maguire
For the annual beer gardens event, Kelly's Bar fences off its parking lot and rents portable toilets and a stage.
By Miles Maguire
And then there was one.

Beer gardens, the traditional outdoor celebration of the end of the UW Oshkosh school year, will be taking place at only one off-campus bar this year as rising costs have prompted Molly McGuire’s to drop its request for a special event permit.

The Common Council voted Tuesday to allow Kelly’s Bar, 219 Wisconsin St., to hold a two-day “Graduation Beer Garden” on May 17 and May 18. The council’s approval is needed so that Kelly’s can keep amplified outdoor music going an extra hour past the usual limit of 11 p.m.

But Molly’s owner Tom Taggart said he was dropping out after sponsoring the event for about 25 years. “The costs make it impossible to do,” he said. “Every year the city’s costs go up and up and up.”

This year the city has estimated that the beer garden sponsors would have to pay $3,500 to cover costs, including police staffing as well as barricades and signs. Last year the cost was about $2,100, Taggart said.

Other expenses have also been rising, including rental fees on portable toilets and generators as well as fees for added insurance coverage and security, he said.

“It’s a business decision,” Taggart added. He said beer gardens used to include a total of four bars splitting the city charges. But recently the participants have just been Molly’s and Kelly’s.

UW Oshkosh commencement ceremonies are scheduled for May 18 at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., just up the street from Kelly’s at Kolf Sports Center on High Avenue.

Each year for beer gardens Kelly’s fences off its parking lot and installs portable toilets and a stage. “It’s one of the busiest days of the year,” said Kelly’s bartender Damian Guenther. He said the bar will be even busier this year without Molly’s running a similar event. 

In recent years Oshkosh has been marketing itself as Event City, but the fees charged for providing police and other services have drawn complaints from organizations that sponsor special activities.

“We just can’t handle the cost,” said Taggart. “Welcome to Event City, where no one can afford to have an event.”

No comments:

Post a Comment