Beer drinkers should be prepared to fork over their cash for at least one more Last Fling in Naperville.
Despite their best efforts, organizers of the Jaycees' four-day bash that opens Friday in downtown said there just wasn't enough time to implement a system in which tickets are substituted for cash during alcohol purchases.
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Mayor George Pradel and the city's liquor commission asked organizers of the city's two largest festivals, the Exchange Club's Ribfest and the Jaycees' Last Fling, to consider implementing such a system and to explore an online ticketing option that would allow attendees to purchase their alcohol tickets in advance.
When Pradel made the request in late July, Fling organizers promised to consider the proposal, but on Thursday said they needed more time.
"The request came six to eight weeks out, so we're going to strongly consider a new system for next year," said Last Fling Executive Director Rosemarie Breske Garvey. "We believe it's a great plan for the safety of our employees and all of Last Fling, so when we institute that large of a change, we're not going to do it halfway. It will be fully executed."
Ribfest's 2013 Chairman Marty Walker said he was familiar with Pradel's request and the festival steering committee will discuss the idea in September.
When he first unveiled the idea, Pradel said he wants "to get away from the exchange of currency in areas of the fest where alcohol is purchased and consumed. Ideally we'd have one table, away from the hustle and bustle of the beer tent, where you could buy tickets for your libations. That way you don't have money passing over the counter or a volunteer tying up the line as they make change for the customers."
Pradel said if the alcohol ticket sale change went well, he'd also like to see food sales move to a more sanitary ticket system. But that may require even more time and the difficult syncing of all food prices.
"That would require the moving to a Taste of Chicago-type format," Garvey said. "I'm not sure Naperville is ready for that kind of model."
Last Fling, which typically attracts between 250,000 and 300,000 people annually, runs through Monday.