|Written by Mark Lineberger|
|Wednesday, 23 March 2011 00:00|
Beer will likely be served at this year’s annual CornFest after discussion last week by the Camp Verde Town Council.
Council members, during their March 16 meeting, directed staff to include in new town codes a provision that would allow beer to be served at the event. In previous efforts to control the town’s liability when it comes to alcohol on town property, the town limited the sale of alcohol to just three events: Fort Verde Days, the Pecan, Wine & Antique Festival and the Crawdad Festival.
The Crawdad Festival, organized by the Verde Valley Mounted Sheriff’s Posse, has been canceled for this year.
Organizers of CornFest are hoping to possibly expand the July festival into a two-day event in order to attract more vendors and to make it a more complete celebration of the town’s agricultural heritage. They also want to sell beer near the town-owned soccer field downtown where the event will be held.
Organizer Carlie Androus, with Camp Verde Promotions, said not allowing beer to be sold was “tying the hands” of promoters.
The town already has explicit rules that have to be adhered to when alcohol is sold at an event, and as long as those rules are followed, Androus argued it should not matter which events have alcohol sales.
“What difference does it make if it gets people to town and it makes money?” Androus asked.
Councilman Pete Roulette said people were actually walking around looking for beer at last year’s CornFest, since it had been sold at the previous year’s event.
“This year the CornFest could benefit, not that people will get drunk and be carrying on,” Roulette said. “It was still a family event.”
Councilwoman Norma Garrison reminded the council the town hasn’t always handled the responsibility of allowing alcohol sales very well.
“There were complaints,” Garrison said. “No one wants to see their 2-year-old dumped on with beer.”
Liability was one of Garrison’s biggest concerns.
“This is America, anyone can sue,” Garrison said. “Everyone seems to think the town has deep pockets.”
Councilwoman Jackie Baker agreed liability is a serious concern, but said council needs to really listen to the people who have stepped up to organize events ever since the town got out of the job of organizing them itself.
Mayor Bob Burnside reminded council the town’s liability policies haven’t been completely finalized yet and neither has the town’s new event guideline handbook.
Burnside recommended keeping the number of events where alcohol is allowed to three.
“If you allow beer and wine at any event, we’re going to have a run on the council,” Burnside said.
Councilwoman Carol German said she felt that number could be increased to maybe even as many as six events.
“I think we should amend this and open up a little,” German said. “It still has to have the approval of the Town Council.”
Town Manager Russ Martin said he could have the new ordinance ready for council approval by April, meaning it would go into effect in May, plenty of time for the CornFest organizers to get permission to sell beer this year.
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