To get more background on the beer ban at Mercado, Patch recently spoke with Jeff Schroeder, a member of the Fiesta Association Board and spokesman for the group that has turned La Fiesta de las Golondrinas into a two-month-long celebration, with activities scheduled to begin as early as Feb. 12 with the Taste of San Juan.
PATCH: I'd like to get into more details about what not selling beer means for Fiesta and all the activities. My understanding is that the sale of beer was the major fund-provider for Fiesta.
SCHROEDER: Yes, alcohol sales in the Mercado has been a great source of income, but there are also many costs associated with the sales such as fencing, security, permits, etc.
PATCH: Without it, will prices go up elsewhere?
SCHROEDER: This has not been determined as this news was just made public last night.
PATCH: Which? To how much?
SCHROEDER: It is too soon to answer these questions.
PATCH: Have you made a determination yet? Will some things have to be cut?
SCHROEDER: All expenses associated with selling alcohol.
PATCH: If so, what?
SCHROEDER: Alcohol permits, tents, tables, cost of beer, cost of wine, decorations, wrist bands, fencing, extra PortiPotties, clean-up costs, extra security costs, special uniforms, lunches for security, cost of extra sheriff security.
PATCH: Beer obviously will continue to be sold at local restaurants. Is there any plan to draw them in more?
SCHROEDER: We’ll be exploring options, possibly the newly formed SJC Restaurant Association.
PATCH: Can they be a source of revenue?
SCHROEDER: This is yet to be determined.
PATCH: Will they become more a part of the advertisement campaign?
SCHROEDER: Hope so, but too early to tell.
PATCH: Is there an effort to keep families at Mercado? If so, what specific outreach would you have for that?
SCHROEDER: There is now a hope that without alcohol sales in the Mercado, it will lend more to a family atmosphere and merchant sales.
PATCH: How does word get out to all the people who come from much farther away?
SCHROEDER: We will most likely post signage at the Mercado entrances, and it will now be included in all of our advertising and press releases.
PATCH: Do you think they'll show up and be disappointed?
SCHROEDER: Of course some people will, but while we didn’t plan for it, we think it is a positive development overall.
PATCH: Or will they have a way to find out?
SCHROEDER: It will also be on our website.
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