Livermore bans out-of-town food at free events


Livermore prides itself on an easy-going lifestyle and being a fairly harmonious town. But now the free concerts that bring it together, have also caused some division.

The Tuesday night concerts have become a tradition in Livermore. There are 20 of them a year at a cost of approximately $13,000. But with a new venue and new rules, the merchants association that funds it is getting some heat.

The concerts take place at a public downtown plaza, and while admission is free, the merchants have added a new rule -- no food or drink from outside of Livermore. The merchants justify this by saying that they get the permit, they pay the bills, they take the risks, and most important, they are promoting themselves.

So here is the controversial part. The merchants have assigned so-called food police to check receipts as people with food go in. And if it isn't from Livermore or from one of the restaurants, they ask the people to leave.

"We're saying buy local, support local," Livermore Downtown, Inc. executive director Rachael Snedecor said. "That's what this is all about."

But does it discriminate against cities like Dublin and Pleasanton?

"Those cities can put on their own events and are more than welcome to put any stipulations you want on it, but the reality is the Tri-Valley as a whole is a very vibrant area, and Livermore is an emerging wine growing region and we're just trying to promote this area," said restaurant owner Ed Westmoreland.

One resident who wants the concerts to revert back to their free picnic style has made a place for people to vent on Facebook. ABC7 tried to reach him, but he was not available.

In the meantime, the concerts will continue. They have had three of them so far and there are 17 to go, featuring more music and more checking of receipts by the food police.

The merchants association says it is better to check receipts than to have people bring in free food and keep these events at least profitable. Otherwise, people would really complain because there would be no concerts at all.

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