(June 7, 2013) After getting the shaft from Slurpees during last year’s Dew Tour, Boardwalk merchants will avoid a similar wax from weenies at this year’s event after City Council voted down a request by the sports festival to distribute tiny hot dog samples.
Hopefully, this will only cause a teeny-weeny problem for the Dew Tour’s endorsement deal.
The council voted this week on the request by Dew Tour promoter Alli Sports to distribute promotional foods at the event, scheduled for June 20-23. City event guidelines permit the dissemination of free edibles, but only on a case-by-case basis.
This year’s culinary selection is again a product of 7-Eleven, one of the Dew Tour’s major sponsors alongside its namesake beverage, Mountain Dew. The samples are about two ounces worth of meat, roughly a quarter of the size of a normal hot dog.
“Last year, I know they did Slurpees from 7-Eleven, this year they wanted to do something different,” said city Special Events Coordinator Lisa Mitchell.
But despite being less than a full frankfurter, the samples have apparently stoked the ire of Boardwalk food vendors, who fear that the distribution of food within the event grounds will cut down on the number of Dew Tour attendees patronizing their businesses.
The city has long maintained that the consumption of beach space for special events is worthwhile if a relative economic stimulus is provided to the town’s own businesses. If event patrons never leave the festival grounds, they cut out any economic benefit to the Boardwalk.
“Every time someone eats something in the footprint of a private event, that’s something that they don’t do on the Boardwalk,” said Councilwoman Margaret Pillas, a former Boardwalk store owner.
“I’ve heard from a lot of businesses who say that we’re going against our own avenue of commerce on the Boardwalk. I’ve tried to explain that it’s not enough to fill someone up, but they’re still concerned,” Pillas said.
Some officials also feared a slippery slope of grilled meats.
“We’re starting with a two-ounce hot dog, and then next year it’ll be a whole hot dog and then the next year hamburgers,” said Councilman Joe Mitrecic. “It’s a great event for the Town of Ocean City, but I do think it’s going to cause issues with the Boardwalk merchants.”
Councilman Brent Ashley said he agreed, while Council Secretary Mary Knight and Mayor Rick Meehan seemed to be the only officials supporting the sampling.
“I disagree with Joe that just because it’s a two-ounce this year, that it’ll be foot-longs next year,” Meehan said.
“If anybody came in the future with larger sizes or different items, we would always come before you again to approve it,” Mitchell noted.
Council voted with five members in favor to deny the request, with Knight in opposition. Council President Lloyd Martin did not participate in the discussion or vote in order to prevent any conflict of interest, since he owns a 7-Eleven franchise.