January 2020

The Orange City Council agreed to sign a three-year contract with Orange International Street Fair (OISF) to continue producing the annual event, as it has for more than a decade.

The City of Orange partners with OISF, the nonprofit that produces the annual Labor Day weekend food fest held around the Old Towne Plaza, because it provides a lucrative fundraising opportunity for local charities. 

OISF has been organizing the street fair under temporary one-year extensions since 2018. The city did not want to sign a longer-term contract until a third-party audit was done and several identified shortcomings were corrected.  

The audit was completed last year, and city staff negotiated a new contract with specific amendments included. Council concerns addressed by the amendments were, primarily, that the fair give priority to Orange-based nonprofits for food and alcohol sales; that alcohol sales be rotated between organizations; and that OISF’s books be open for city review.

Time and tippling
OISF agreed to the spirit of those amendments and requested a five-year contract for consideration at the Dec. 10 city council meeting.  It also asked to increase its liquor licenses from 16 to 18, to allow alcohol sales to be rotated evenly among the 36 street fair vendors.

The council balked at a five-year term, because, as Councilman Mike Alvarez noted, street fair contracts were usually three to four years, and a longer contract would lock in a future city council. “There will be four new council members after next year,” he noted. “They’ll go through four fairs before negotiating again.”

Alvarez also stressed the “Orange first” theme. OISF had identified five non-Orange-based nonprofits that it believed should be grandfathered into future street fairs. The “legacy” groups, as OISF calls them, serve Danish and Greek food, and are the best sources for that cuisine. The fifth legacy group, OC High School of the Arts (OHSA), sells beer. Alvarez objected specifically to Santa Ana-based OHSA. “They are not based in Orange, and they are not unique,” he said. “OHSA doesn’t provide anything that couldn’t be provided by another group.”

OISF’s request for two additional liquor licenses was addressed at length. The council noted that there were already 25 licenses in play among restaurants and bars in the Old Towne Plaza area. 

Police Chief Tom Kisela said he preferred to keep the fair licenses at 16. “We don’t have a lot of alcohol problems,” he reported. “But that’s due to manpower. You get that many people together, add heat and alcohol and it keeps the police and fire departments busy.”

Mayor Mark Murphy motioned for a three-year contract with 16 liquor licenses and an option to extend it for two years when it expires. 

The vote was a unanimous 3-0. Councilman Chip Monaco was absent.

Orange street fair good to go