TEXARKANA, Ark. — At 11 a.m. Wednesday a portion of downtown Texarkana will be Arkansas’ newest entertainment district where outdoor alcohol consumption from open containers is allowed.
The 30-day waiting period has passed since the city Board of Directors passed an ordinance establishing the district according to a new state law passed during this year’s legislative session. City officials and downtown business owners have expressed enthusiasm about the district, which they envision becoming an entertainment destination akin to the Fort Worth, Texas, Stockyards or New Orleans’ French Quarter.
The city Public Works Department has placed signs stating the district’s hours and painted green stripes on the pavement at its borders to make clear where the district begins and ends. The ordinance also calls for garbage bins to be placed throughout the district and for them to be emptied daily.
A group of downtown business owners has branded the district The Railyard, though City Manager Kenny Haskin on Tuesday said the name was not officially endorsed by the city.
To celebrate the district’s opening, a number of businesses inside it plan events and attractions there Thursday. Activities include outdoor karaoke at Broadway Sports Bar and Billiards, a Halloween costume contest at Zen Artist Emporium and a classic car show in front of the Lindsey Railroad Museum, all on East Broad Street, according to an unconfirmed flier circulating on social media.
Open consumption of alcohol will be allowed in roughly 14 blocks of downtown Sundays from 11 a.m. to midnight and Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Establishments in the district licensed to sell alcohol may allow customers age 21 and over to leave with an open container. No one may enter any business with an open container.
All state alcohol regulations remain in effect, including that no open containers may be carried out from liquor stores, no open containers are allowed in any motorized vehicles, and underage drinking is illegal.
With input from the Police Department and Fire Department, the city Planning Commission will prepare a review report on the district in June 2020 and January 2021, and annually thereafter.
Bentonville, El Dorado, Fayetteville, Little Rock, Mountain Home and Pine Bluff are among Arkansas cities that have established or are considering similar entertainment districts.