COLUMBIA — Amid controversy among downtown businesses, 9th Street Summerfest will move a few blocks northeast to Forrest Rose Park at Mojo's for the foreseeable future.
The reason for the change was a petition from the businesses and an action by the Columbia City Council on Monday, said Richard King, Summerfest organizer and owner of The Blue Note and Mojo's. Summerfest has been held outside The Blue Note on North Ninth Street for seven years.
Several weeks ago, 21 businesses signed a petition asking for two changes to Summerfest, although Room 38 Restaurant and Lounge later withdrew from the petition.
The businesses asked the council to restrict street closings for Summerfest to Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays and to end street closings for Summerfest before the fall semester begins at MU next month. Right now, the Summerfest schedule ends in September.
The council unanimously rejected both requests and, once again, agreed to close Ninth Street for Thursday's concert.
But in a 5-2 vote related to Summerfest, the council also decided to allow Tom Rippeto, who owns Red and Moe Pizzeria next to The Blue Note on North Ninth Street, to sell alcohol on the street during the concert this week. However, the council called for a review of the impact that Summerfest has on downtown businesses to make policy at a later date.
Rippeto also asked that the street be closed.
That's what has made King upset enough to move Summerfest. He pointed out that to close Ninth Street, he has had to collect signatures from every business along the street between Walnut Street and Broadway for each Summerfest concert over the past seven years. He gives those signatures to the Central Columbia Association board, which then makes a recommendation to the council.
For this recent vote, the Central Columbia Association board recommended approving King's request but rejecting Rippeto's. Still, Rippeto's request to the council was granted even though he had not collected one signature, King said.
"I'm very disappointed in the council's decision," King said. "I feel like I got punched in the stomach."
At this point, all Summerfest concerts have been moved to Forrest Rose Park at Mojo's. However, if the council completes its review of downtown businesses affected by the street closure in a timely way, King said he would consider returning the festival to North Ninth Street.
The free concert featuring Big Smith, Noah Earle and Vulvette starts at 7 p.m. Thursday in Forrest Rose Park at Mojo's, 1013 Park Ave.