Council OKs Dozinky expansion

The New Prague City Council unanimously approved extending the hours of Dozinky, the city’s fall harvest festival. Council members voted Monday, June 3, to allow the September festival to remain open until 11 p.m. Saturday, but there are conditions.

Council member Dave Bruzek proposed four conditions. They are that there be sufficient police and public staff during the extended hours; a band proposed for Saturday night stop playing at 11 p.m.; the streets be cleared by midnight and the city not contribute anymore funds to the festival.

The New Prague Chamber of Commerce organizes the annual Dozinky festival that is held in the city’s downtown area along Main Street. Currently Dozinky begins on Friday night and ends at 5 p.m. on Saturday. Main Street and part of Central Avenue N are closed during that time for several activities. Kristy Mach, executive director of the New Prague Chamber of Commerce, brought the request before the council at its May 6 meeting.

She and chamber board president Bryan Connelly, who manages CreeksBend Golf Course, talked to the council at its June 3 meeting. They proposed the festival stay open until 11 p.m. The food vendors would remain open until 7 p.m. and a band would play in the Chamber Beer Garden along Central Avenue N until 11 p.m. Main Street would remain closed during the extended time.

During an hour of discussion the council and the chamber discussed issues of safety, cleanup and the additional cost for providing police and public staff. The estimated cost for police and public staff is $5,445. The chamber asked if the city could help by providing $2,725 of that cost.

Connelly said the chamber was asking the city to help with the cost for the first year.

Council members Pat Scripture and Bruzek both noted the city already has about $11,000 in its budget for Dozinky. Bruzek said there is a limit to what the city can provide.

Mach understood and respected the council’s point of view. She noted that funds raised by Dozinky help the city with other events over the year.

Mayor Chuck Nickolay responded that the city helps in other activities over the years. It spends funds to provide safety during events such as the New Prague Half- Marathon. Nickolay’s biggest concern was on safety. An example was when the food vendors close, they would bring in vehicles to move their stands while people are milling about. Police would be needed to direct traffic.

Police Chief Mark Vosejpka said that the police have dealt with various issues on Friday during Dozinky, from people being asleep on lawns to vandalism.

Council member Shawn Ryan was concerned that those Friday problems would transfer to Saturday. He noted with the 11 p.m. closing it would give some people 14 hours of solid drinking. He cited such problems as the riot in the Minneapolis neighborhood of Dinkytown. "We add more hours, there’s more possibilities of problems," said Ryan.

Scripture asked what would happen if they approved the extension, but couldn’t get the police? Vosejpka replied he would find out in a month. He couldn’t guarantee it, but the odds were in favor of him getting enough law enforcement to cover the event.

The council approved the conditions, plus a waiver of the city ordinance of public drinking on Main Street for Dozinky from 5:30 p.m. Friday to 1 a.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. Saturday to midnight Sunday.

The chamber board of directors was scheduled to meet this week and would be discussing the costs for remaining open until 11 p.m.