Ozark city leaders are trying to bring a taste of the "big easy" to the wiregrass. Next month, the city is hosting a crawdad festival, where people will be able to enjoy Cajun food and music. But the festival is causing some controversy. Along with all the Cajun food that will be offered. Beer will also be sold. Now anti-alcohol advocates are rallying together to convince people not to attend unless city leaders ban the sale of alcohol at the festival.
"We're trying to make an authentic Cajun style festival. The beer goes along with the crawdad and the other Cajun food that we are going to have," said Mickey Snell, with the Ozark Leisure Services Department.
Some people disagree and say beer should not be sold at next month's Crawdad Festival in Ozark, which will be held at Eagle Stadium behind the Ozark Civic Center.
"When you try to mix alcohol with families the two do not mix. Alcohol should not be used drunk or partaken of when families are around," said Pastor Jim Hill, of the Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Ozark.
Pastor Hill has been very outspoken against the festival and says the sale of beer crosses a moral line that should not be crossed. He goes on to say that selling beer at the festival takes away from the family atmosphere it is trying to promote.
The city officials in charge of planning the event maintain that there will be plenty of controls in place to make sure that people do not get out of hand, and they say that there will be designated areas for people who want to buy and drink beer.
"We've got it separated in ways that if you don't want any part of the beer, you're not going to be around it. We've got the kids games in a totally separate area, and I really don't think it is going to be a problem," said Snell.
Still, some people are adamant that alcohol should not be sold at the festival, and they're trying to get others boycott the event.
"Numerous churches, in fact one of the pastor's wives from another church has called all the churches in Ozark and Dale County, and we are encouraging all of our people not to partake in the crawdad festival," said Pastor Hill.
City officials say they do expect people to speak out against the beer sales at the next city council meeting.
Ozark’s mayor Bob Buntin says there are no plans to address the issue at the meeting, but he does say the council is expecting residents to voice their opinions against the plan to sell beer at the festival. If the issue is brought up the city council will decide whether to ban alcohol sales, which they say is not altogether out of the question.
Beer or no beer, the festival will be held March 24th from 10 AM to 9 PM.