Public to weigh in on alcohol allowances in Brainerd parks

A public hearing for an ordinance allowing alcohol sale and consumption in certain city parks is set for May 15 at City Hall.

Memorial Park parking area.
Memorial Park parking area Wednesday, May 11, 2022, in Brainerd.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

BRAINERD — Members of the public will get a chance to weigh in on the issue of allowing alcohol in Brainerd’s city parks.

The City Council set a public hearing for 7:30 p.m. May 15 to get feedback on a proposed ordinance to officially allow the sale and/or consumption of alcohol in certain parks across Brainerd.

Parks Board members began discussing the issue late last year in preparation for events that will likely take place at the amphitheater in the city’s newest park along the Mississippi River. They also expressed a desire for the city’s code to reflect some of the activity that’s already happening in the parks.

Right now, alcohol consumption is not allowed in city parks, with the exception of Memorial Park, where city code allows limited on-sale liquor licenses to be granted to professional baseball organizations and concession stand vendors. The consumption of alcohol under that provision is limited to vending structures and seating areas on the premises and only during scheduled adult activities. Spectators and players, however, are not actually allowed to bring their own alcohol into the park for consumption, even though many do so without consequence. City officials noted consumption often takes place at the Lum Park Campground, despite restrictions, as well.

After several meetings worth of back and forth between the City Council and Parks Board, and a few revisions, council members approved the first reading of an ordinance during their meeting Monday, May 1.


Under the proposal, a club, charitable, religious or other nonprofit organization that has existed for at least three years could apply for a temporary on-sale liquor license to sell alcohol in connection with a social event in one of the city’s parks. Alcohol would not be allowed, though, in the following parks: Bane, Buster, Gustafson, Hitch-Wayne, Meadows, Mississippi River Landing, O’Brien, Trailside and Triangle.

An event permit would also have to be approved by the City Council, and the following conditions would have to be met:

  • The sale of alcohol is limited to four consecutive days or fewer.
  • The sale of alcohol in public parks is prohibited during organized youth activities.
  • If catered, the applicant must provide information for the catering entity that has a liquor license.
  • For events within a public street, the area in which alcohol is sold and consumed must be entirely contained within a building and/or within temporary fencing.
  • Attendees cannot bring outside alcohol into the area covered under the event permit.
  • Alcohol cannot be sold or consumed in a glass container.
  • One or more peace officers may be assigned to the event at the licensee’s cost. The number and nature of peace officer presence is left in the discretion of the police chief or the chief’s designee.
  • The licensee must provide proof of liability and property insurance.
More Brainerd City Council coverage

To further provide for continued, legal alcohol consumption in the case of Memorial Park softball games and at the Lum Park Campground, consumption would be allowed in all parks except for Buster, Gustafson, Hitch-Wayne, Mississippi River Landing, Trailside and Triangle.

Parks Board members heard opposition on the issue from resident Wayne Erickson during their meeting in March, with the notion that parks are for kids and families and do not need to be another place where people can drink.

Anyone else who wants to express their views on the matter — whether for or against — can do so during the public hearing during the council’s regular meeting May 15 at City Hall.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at .

Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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