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City OKs alcohol sales at fairground events

POSTED: October 18, 2013 12:15 a.m.

A big change is coming to the Cumming Fairgrounds after the Cumming City Council approved a measure that will allow alcohol to be sold or served during certain events at the facility.

City attorney Dana Miles said the provision, which is a part of the city’s alcohol ordinance, would allow groups renting the facility for events to sell or serve beer and wine by the individual container.

“This is … basically divided into two sections,” Miles told council members Tuesday night. “The first section talks about alcohol sales where somebody has a festival or event and they have authorized sales. The second example is private events like a wedding … where they wouldn’t be charging for the alcohol, they would just be serving alcohol.”

He said those selling the beverages would have to hold a city alcohol license or obtain one prior to their event. They would then have to get a special event license, so the city council would have control over what events are permitted to sell or serve alcohol.

Miles added that those selling alcohol would have to use a system in which identification was checked to ensure those buying alcohol were 21 or older.

Those of appropriate age would then be issued a wrist bracelet and would be limited to buying four alcoholic beverages during any single day of an event.  

Mayor H. Ford Gravitt said he believed the move is a good one for the fairgrounds.

“I would recommend that we go ahead and do this because it’s going to be additional revenue through that,” he said.

Councilman Ralph Perry was absent and Rupert Sexton abstained from the vote, which was 3-0 in favor.

Dave Horton, director of the venue, said that while the new rules could open up the possibility of some new events, time slots are limited.

“It will allow for some possibilities out there as far as sponsorships and things like that that could come in,” he said. “But for the most part, I think events that would be coming in would be something that would be a rental and there just aren’t that many dates available.”

He noted that most muncipal events at the fairgrounds, such as the Cumming Country Fair & Festival, would probably never allow alcohol sales.

“I don’t see it ever happening at the fair,” he said. “And even most of our rental events, it wouldn’t play into because they’re like Relay for Life and the leukemia walk, the church car show. And those things aren’t going to do that. It would have to be an event where alcohol was a good fit.”

One of those events is the National BBQ Cup, which will take place Nov. 15 and 16.

Now in its third year, the gathering features numerous professional and amateur barbecue cooks from around the country, as well as a tasting event for the public and live music.

Organizer Randall Bowman welcomed the change.  

“We will have a beer garden at this year’s event,” said Bowman, adding that he believes that the timing was right.

“When Sunday sales passed with such an astronomical percentage and we’ve got growler stores opening in the city and things like that, I think the general public pretty much dictated that this was something they wanted,” he said.

Bowman went on to note that he’s in talks with Budweiser for sponsorship opportunities at this year’s barbecue event and expects the new rules to have huge effect.

“I’d think it’ll make a five-figure impact easily,” he said. “I think the biggest thing too for an event like ours is what we can work with for next year.”

According to Bowman, the move was a good one.

“I think it really opens the door for the future … I think it can really stimulate our economy and help our community grow. I personally think it’s a wonderful thing.”


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