Crawdad Festival Controversy

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The Crawdad Festival is two days away and things are already boiling.

Ozark Mayor Bob Bunting has made an administrative decision to not allow alcohol to be served at this weekend's festival. That decision was made after the city council unanimously approved the beer license request.

A few weeks ago News 4 reported on the controversy of allowing beer at the festival.

Now that the mayor has taken the beer away, there's still a controversy. This time, it’s about the mayor possibly overstepping his boundaries.

The city of Ozark is holding its first ever Crawdad Festival this weekend, but officials haven't been able to live up to its ‘Big Easy theme.

Controversy has swarmed the festival beyond what many could imagine. All over one item: beer.

The Ozark City Council unanimously approved the Department of Leisure Services' request for a retail beer license.

But Mayor Bob Bunting made an administrative decision to not allow city money to be used for buying the alcohol and supplies. "I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror and use tax payers money to buy beer, knowing there was no way that we could even get our money back or break even or anything else," he says.

According to Mayor Bunting, the city would have to sell over 600 glasses of beer to break even on the cost for having it.

However, some people in the city say the mayor does not have the power to make that kind of decision.

"I elected the council to make decisions like this. They made a decision, it’s been publicized in the paper and I believe they should stick by their decision to sell alcohol at the Crawdad Festival," says Mike Jerrell, Ozark business owner, Wiregrass Rental Center.

But it's still undetermined if the mayor actually overrode the council's vote, since he just refused to let the beer, licenses and supplies be bought with city money.

The mayor says he has learned from this issue. Next year, the city plans to have a private vendor sell the beer, to avoid this happening again.

The city council is meeting right now to determine if they want to override the mayor's decision.

The festival will be held this Saturday, March 24th from 10AM to 9PM.

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