Tighter Restrictions Mean a Much Quieter Fourth at McCall's North Beach 

click to enlarge Idaho State Parks and Rec officer Bart Butke: "I haven't written a ticket—nothing. It's all been verbal." - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • Idaho State Parks and Rec officer Bart Butke: "I haven't written a ticket—nothing. It's all been verbal."

McCall's North Beach on the shores of Payette Lake have seen some boisterous Fourth of July weekends in past years, with crowds swelling to as many as 2,500 revelers. The Valley County Sheriff's Office reported vehicle burglaries, major medical incidents including alcohol poisoning, sexual assault and some partiers tossing beer bottles at sheriff's deputies out on patrol boats. The sheriff's office said the scene was an annual "powder keg" waiting to blow.

That triggered new rules on or near many of McCall's shorelines this Fourth of July weekend, with no public alcohol consumption allowed and a limit to the number of people at North Beach: 750 and restricted parking on the roads leading to the popular location.

This year, officials said the scene at North Beach has been "mild" as families spent the day unloading stand-up paddle boards and kayaks, and children swimming in the shallows.

"It's been very quiet," said Idaho State Parks and Recreation officer Bart Gutke.

Gutke estimated 500-600 people passed through the area Sunday, July 3, down from the thousands of visitors in years past. Enforcement has been largely confined to speeding tickets near the beach, and cooperation with state, county and city police has been "wonderful."

"I haven't written a ticket—nothing," Gutke said. "It's all been verbal."

Meanwhile, in downtown McCall, which will attract thousands of holiday celebrants Monday evening to see the city's fireworks show, officials have created something they're calling "Lakeside Liberty Fest," featuring a bounce house, water slides, a shade tent and booths from more than than 30 nonprofits and local businesses.

"Simple, wholesome, good-time, small-town fun, that's what we're about," said Erin Greaves, city of McCall communications manager. "It's not to keep people away. It's to bring the right customers in."
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