State OKs Warsaw beverage district in time for bike festival

By Dan Spalding
News Now Warsaw

WARSAW — It’s official – a request to establish an outdoor beverage district for downtown Warsaw has been approved by the state of Indiana.

The city of Warsaw learned of the approval by state officials Monday night, according to City Planner Justin Taylor.

News of the approval comes less than three weeks before the annual Fat & Skinny Tire fest, which includes a race in downtown Warsaw on May 17.

City council approved plans for the beverage district earlier this year.

Taylor said Tuesday the bike festival will represent the first test for the new policy, but expressed confidence on how it will go.

“It really does make sense. When you look at how we’ve done it in the past, we put all the adults in a tent, isolated them, fenced it off, and said this is your little area you have to stay in here,” Taylor said.

Under the past arrangement, some adults would venture into the beer tent while leaving other family members behind outside of the tent.

“In some respects, it’s counter-intuitive, but it makes it almost more family friendly,” he said.

The state established the DORA policy in 2023 and the concept has quickly become a popular option across the state.

Winona Lake established the policy last year and was the first in Kosciusko County to do so.

Main Street Warsaw is in charge of overseeing the DORA guidelines and is expected to release details soon outlining how the program will work soon.

Fat & Skinny Tire Fest is May 17-20.

The new policy will allow festival goers to enjoy adult beverages outdoors but within the downtown district.

Officials predict the change will be a boost for downtown festivals.

The downtown district is the first to be established. Officials are expected to see how the police works out and have said other districts in other parts of the city could be considered in the future.

About a dozen downtown merchants who sell alcohol have applied to participate in the program so far.

Taylor talked with News Now Warsaw on Tuesday for a taping of In The Know, the public affairs show that can be heard this weekend on Kensington Digital Media radio stations.