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Alcohol limit hits sour note at festival

ALBANY -- Nancy Adams sipped a beer at Tulip Festival Saturday afternoon, but she said it wasn't with the same enjoyment she'd experienced at past festivals.

She stood with her husband and some friends in the fenced-off beer garden area, a feature city officials have said is meant to create a more family-friendly atmosphere and curb excessive drinking at the event.

"I'm in my 50s. I should be able to have a beer and shop [at the craft tables], too," said Adams, who came to the festival from Glenville. "We're in a big playpen. It might change our view about coming another year."

About 150 people milled around a large fenced-in area across from the main stage around 2 p.m., but there were no lines at the alcohol vendors.

Several visitors said the crowd seemed lighter than in the past and that they had passed several "stoop parties" in the neighborhood as they walked to Washington Park.

Last month, Mayor Jerry Jennings announced drinking at the festival would be limited to the beer garden area, with vendors and wristband admission. In the past, festivalgoers would arrive with coolers of alcohol and spend the day on the lawn.

Under the new policy, coolers with food and nonalcoholic drinks were still permitted at the event, but they were subject to inspection.

The measure is similar to rules instituted seven years ago to combat excessive drinking at the city's Alive at Five summer concert series at the Corning Preserve.

By midday, Jennings said enforcement of the policy was going well. He reiterated the policy change was not a reaction to the alcohol-fueled melee in the Pine Hills neighborhood this year before Albany's St. Patrick's Day parade, but something city officials had been discussing for several years.

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