Cheraw Town Council members attended a briefing with Cheraw Mayor Andy Ingram Tuesday evening to discuss festivals, fireworks and concert events that target adult audiences by allowing alcohol consumption.
Safety issues, along with strict demands from the Fire Marshall, and complaints from business owners who had to move their gas tanks to accommodate the town’s Fourth of July fireworks display downtown, have prompted Cheraw Town Council members to move the entire event this year to the Cheraw High School football field.
“I like having it downtown,” said Ingram, “but there are many positive reasons for moving it to the high school.”
In fact, Ingram provided council with a list of more than a dozen reasons to move the event to the high school. Number one on the list is safety. The event has outgrown the downtown venue with way too many people in a confined space, he said. There are permanent bathrooms at the high school and that saves money on portable toilets. Lighting is better and parking is almost unlimited.
There will be no pedestrian traffic on streets and no closing of streets; better viewing areas and more room for children’s games and vendor space. Having controlled entrance and exit ways will help with any security issues. First aid and cooling stations are also in place there, said Ingram.
That issue was decided, but the question of whether or not council will vote to host a summer concert series allowing adults to drink alcohol beverages is yet to be answered.
While attendance has steadily improved for the firework displays, attendance for the summer concert series last year was very low.
“I have had numbers of people ask me why we don’t allow them to bring a cooler to some of the events we have,” said Ingram. “And in my personal opinion, I think it would increase our attendance.”
“Bennettsville has been very successful with the Beach Blast and other events. And they allow coolers,” said Cheraw Police Chief Jay Brooks.
Although no decision has yet been made, Ingram asked Town Clerk Tina Ellis to place the matter on the agenda for the next regular meeting of council for financial approval.
Jay Bennett, director of Cheraw Recreation and Leisure Services, hopes to bring in bands like the Fantastic Shakers and the Catalinas. “Bands with variety,” he said, “that should bring in a good crowd.”
— Staff Writer Karen Kissiah can be reached by calling 843-537-5261, or by email at email@example.com.