Mike Worcester, "Lost Cokato: The "3.2" Joints," In the Midst Of, Cokato Historical Society, (September, 2017) Vol 37, No. 4.
On election day 2006, the voters of Cokato shocked many, including themselves, by approving a ballot issue which allowed the city to issue licenses for the sale of strong beer, wine, and liquor. It brought to an end the status of Cokato being a “dry” town, a legacy dating back over ninety years.
We’ve written before about how Cokato became a dry town and what that meant. Our purpose here is to note how even with that dry status, area residents could buy beer at what were called “3.2 joints”.
Once National Prohibition ended in Minnesota in early 1933, the 3.2 establishments could apply for licenses. Many did over the years. By 2007 when the city was given the authority to issue licenses for strong beverages, only one was left, Nelson’s Bar & Grill, on Millard Avenue.
Mike Worcester, "The Saloons Must Go," In the Midst Of, Cokato Historical Society, (Spring, 1997) Vol 17, No. 2.
Calgren's saloon, Millard Ave, circa 1910.
In the state of Minnesota today—'although no one is really quite sure—there are approximately sixty communities that are classified as “dry” towns.‘ Simply put these towns, by statute, do not allow the issuance of licenses to sell anything stronger that 3.2% beer. No strong beer, wine, or liquor can be sold. Cokato is one of those towns. And how it came to be this way is a story that is full of twist, turns, and legal shenanigans that could make modern audiences blush. Before we begin this tale though, some background is needed.
Mike Worcester, "Lost Cokato: The "3.2" Joints," In the Midst Of, Cokato Historical Society, (Winter, 1999) Vol 19, No. 1.
Tuesday, March 12, 1912, was a usual spring day in Cokato. Temps were in the low-thirties, the sun was shining, and the dirt streets had turned to ankle deep mud. So why then, did the entire student body of the Cokato public school slog through those messy streets and gather in front of city hall on the morning of March 12? That particular Tuesday was not just any day for the town—it was election day.
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