By Jeri Pearson
With the passing of HB1228, now Act 874, during the 2021 legislative session, local municipalities now have the authority to create entertainment districts, even in a dry county.
According to Act 874 (click to read the full PDF of the law), the city can “designate entertainment district in an area with established entities authorized sell alcoholic beverages; and for other purposes”
With The Ouachitas, located at 821 Mena Street, authorized to brew and sell alcohol, this qualifies Mena to create an entertainment district, despite residing in a dry county.
The Ouachitas opened the brewery portion of the enterprise in October 30, 2020 (see story here).
The Ouachita’s owner, Derek Campbell said the first beer legally brewed and sold in the county was a momentous occasion, one for which the community showed a vast amount of support.
“I think people understand what we are doing here. Everyone has been pleased with what we have to offer and what we are trying to bring to downtown.”
During council committee meetings on Tuesday, July 6, committee members, comprised of council members, voted unanimously to send a recommendation to the council to approve the creation of an entertainment district, however a temporary one, lasting two days, July 30 and 31 from 5 until 10 p.m.
Mena Mayor Seth Smith said such an endeavor would be beneficial to the city as a boon to tourism.
“The law allows us to create a temporary or permanent district,” Smith said. “The recommendation from the committee to the council is a temporary one, to try it out.”
The request for a temporary entertainment district came from Campbell, who requested Martin Street, between The Ouachitas and Sanctified Designs, be considered.
Smith said Campbell’s plans for the dates of the temporary entertainment district are a result of a large live music event being planned, that Campbell believes will exceed The Ouachitas seating capacity indoors.
Smith noted if the temporary entertainment district is a success, opportunities for additional temporary entertainment districts may come to fruition.
“It may open the door for a variety of events in the future,” Smith said. “Tourists are coming here. We need to give them a reason to stay here.”