Sister Bay will hold its annual Fall Fest debate today at a Parks Committee meeting at 3pm.
Representatives from the Sheriff’s Department, Door County Emergency Services, Sister Bay Fire Department and village businesses are expected to be in attendance to discuss “complaints and issues associated with Fall Fest,” according to the meeting agenda.
Each year, Fall Fest – dubbed “Fall Down Fest” years ago in reference to the heavy drinking associated with the event – sparks debate about whether the annual end of season party is too much of a party. For 66 years the village has been closing the street for the festival, held the weekend after Columbus Day (in earlier days it was actually held in September). People are allowed to carry open containers of alcohol outside and through the village over the weekend.
The scrutiny is not new. Fall Fest has come under fire throughout its history for not offering enough of a family-friendly environment. In the 1950s and 1960s, Gibraltar students actually got out of school early on Fall Fest Friday to attend the carnival that was once part of the event. But as years went by Fall Fest weekend became a vital source of income for businesses as they looked ahead to a long winter season or prepared to shut their doors.
That turned the focus to paying bills more than entertaining the locals and their families.
The village has curtailed the hours alcohol can be sold outside and limited the size of alcohol containers. Safety concerns brought an end to two of the most popular parts of Fall Fest in recent years, the Ping Pong Ball Drop from a helicopter and the soap box derby, which used to run down the Sister Bay Hill.
Today’s meeting will be held at the Sister Bay Fire Station on Mill Road.