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Fight brewing over beer fest

(Published June 28, 1999)

Eastern Market has been engulfed by a microbrew-ha-ha.

Plans for the Mid-Atlantic Beer and Food Festival, featuring 80 kinds of microbrewed beer Sept. 18-19 at Eastern Market, are drawing a torrent of criticism from area residents as well as farmers who sell at the market.

The Capitol Hill Association of Merchants and Professionals (CHAMPS) boasted in its May newsletter of "convincing" festival organizers to bring the event and an estimated 10,000 people to Eastern Market. Organizers would close Seventh Street SE from Pennsylvania Avenue to North Carolina Avenue and C Street from Seventh to the Citibank parking lot. Promoter Hugh Anderson said festivalgoers would pay $15 in advance or $20 at the site for tickets for 10 4-ounce samples.

"It is not a beer-drinking, drunken festival," Anderson told a packed Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6B meeting June 15. "It is a sampling event."

But residents, who were not apprised of the plan until word spread on the Internet, see it otherwise.

"We are already dealing with people peeing on our fences," said one resident who lives near the market.

Dan Donohugh said closing off the streets around the market would make it impossible for farmers such as himself to do business.

"That is where we park our trucks," he said. "We have to be able to load and unload our produce during the day."

Anderson said he could arrange valet parking for the farmers or to bring workers to help with loading and unloading, but Donohugh and others remained unconvinced.

Anderson added that organizers would arrange for security and trash collection and that the festival area would not be fenced off. He finished by saying festival organizers wanted to work with the community to respond to their concerns.

ANC 6B voted to create a committee on the matter and to consult with the Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee.—Rebecca Charry

Copyright 1999, The Common Denominator