DORA’s first big test gets a round of applause

Specialized beverage cups for the new outdoor beverage district were common sites Friday at activites associated with the Fat and Skinny Tire Fest in downtown Warsaw. Plictured above are spectators who gathered to wath a BMX bike stunt show on Center Street in Warsaw. News Now Warsaw photo by Dan Spalding.
By Dan Spalding
News Now Warsaw

WARSAW — Officials with Winona Lake and Warsaw were pleased with how the new outdoor beverage policy worked out during Fat and Skinny Tire Fest activities last weekend.

Both towns have established DORA districts through the state that allow people to buy adult beverages from participating bars and restaurants and then take the drinks outdoors within the districts so they can enjoy other activities

The policy was in place earlier this year in Winona Laka for the Wine About the Winter event, but officials in both communities were eager to see how things went during the first large-scale outdoor festival of 2024.

Neither town reported any problems over the weekend.

The policy essentially means festival organizers no longer have to limit beer consumption to within the confines of traditional beer tents.

The relaxed approach appears to be popular with spectators as well as festival organizers.

“For us for Fat and Skinny this weekend, it was a great help for me because we didn’t have to barricade half of our food court,” said Nick Hauck, who manages the Village at Winona, which hosted numerous bike activities Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Kosciusko Chamber President Rob Parker was ecstatic about how it was received Friday at the Warsaw’s Third Friday, which hosted races and a BMX bike stunt show near the Kosciusko County Courthouse in downtown Warsaw.

Organizers saw large crowds Friday as a result of combining Third Friday with the bike fest.

Plenty of spectators were seen watching bike events with specially branded DORA cups in hand.

“It exceeded my expectations,” Parker said. “I was thrilled to see so many people just enjoying themselves in the downtown with a DORA cup with friends and family and creating memories.”

Parker talked with some of the bars and restaurants who participated and said they were pleased.

He said every downtown business that sells alcohol has signed up to participate and that two of them – Mad Anthony’s and Rex’s Rendezvous — set up shop outdoors to sell drinks.

“Just seeing the influx of additional dollars coming into our downtown businesses was a really big deal,” he said.

Officials in both towns see the new policy as a boost for merchants and the local economy.

“It’s been a great asset so far and I just think it’s one of those things that will continue,” said Winona Lake Town Manager Craig Allebach.