The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has given its approval for Minocqua's downtown section of southbound lanes of Hwy. 51 to be closed for eight hours during the town's annual Beef-A-Rama celebration Sept. 29.
In the past the DOT has allowed partial closing of the town's main street through downtown, but because of the rising number of attendees and increasing traffic safety concerns officials from the town and the chamber of commerce made a formal in-person request with DOT officials to seek the closure of the highway during eight hours of the annual celebration.
Minocqua town chairman Mark Hartzheim said he was pleased state officials recognized the importance of closing the street for eight hours through the downtown to allow safer conditions for the more than 10,000 people who annually attend the event.
According to Hartzheim, traffic will be directed through the town via the northbound lanes.
"They [the DOT] of course had questions on how we were going to get traffic through the town and how we would handle it all safely," Beth Wetzler, activities director for the chamber, said. "But I think they were so impressed with Chief [Andy] Gee's plan for handling the traffic and the pedestrians."
In the past, attendees in the downtown would have to look for oncoming traffic when wanting to move from one side of the street to the other. This year they will be able to walk safely across the street with no traffic in the downtown for the eight hours.
Wetzler said DOT officials could see the town wasn't asking for something without important and legitimate reasons. The chief's plan was appropriate and it really answered any questions they may have had.
"They could see the need to do this so people could be safe and the event could keep growing," Wetzler said.
Hartzheim said the growth of the event dictates such a move.
"We told them we want this to grow, but we want it to be as safe as we can possibly have that," Hartzheim said. "To do that we needed the street closed for a period."
"I'm really excited about this because this will the 48th Beef-A-Rama and when we have the 50th, it should really be something," said Wetzler.
The celebration will bring in thousands of visitors who will partake in a number of events from the Rump Roast Run, the store-front cook-off, the street dances and the "Parade of Beef" as well as live music and dancing, craft fairs and roasted corn.
Joe VanDeLaarschot may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted: Monday, June 11, 2012
Article comment by:
Good Work!! I'm not sure how, but this is going to make the greatest "a-rama" in the world even greater!!