Cumming City Council last week approved changes to the city’s alcoholic beverage ordinance to allow the serving of beer and wine at certain events hosted at the fairgrounds.
That such is the case doesn’t mean you’re going to see wasted fairgoers staggering around the ferris wheel each fall.
The ordinance change is for the fairgrounds as an event venue, not the fair itself. Visitors may be able to get fried Kool-aid at the facility’s signature event, but they won’t be ordering up any cold combination of hops and barleys anytime soon.
In fact, the change in the city ordinance isn’t likely to affect more than a double handful of events hosted at the fairgrounds each year.
It will allow certain public events, like the annual BBQ Cup competition set for next month, to sell alcohol under very strict conditions, and it will allow alcohol to be served without charge at certain private events, such as weddings.
Neither is necessarily a bad thing. And Cumming certainly isn’t the only local government in the area to make such allowances.
For events like the barbecue competition, being able to secure sponsorship from an alcoholic beverage company can be vital to long-term financial viability. Long established cooking competitions at other public locales, such as Stone Mountain Park, have allowed consumption of alcohol for years, and have benefitted from sponsorships from those companies.
None of which means beer is going to flow like a river with unchecked consumption by patrons. The last thing organizers of any such event want is the negative publicity that comes from a lack of proper controls when it comes to selling alcohol.
Under the ordinance changes, anyone selling alcohol at the fairgrounds will have to have a city license to do so, and an additional permit for the specific event. the selling of beer and wine at such events is likely to be more closely monitored than at most of the local restaurants on any busy weekend.
Many local governments in Georgia have similar provisions for street festivals and other special events. Some have gone as far as hosting their own beer festivals and wine tastings.
Allowing alcohol at the fairgrounds on a limited, controlled basis isn’t going to change the experiences of those who go to the fair each year, nor will it be a factor in the majority of events hosted at the fairgrounds on an annual basis.
What it will do is open the venue up for a broader variety of events that will appeal to more people, making the fairgrounds even more successful than is now the case.
We’re convinced city officials will make sure the changes at the fairgrounds are not abused by event organizers, and that just a few months down the road the amended alcohol ordinance will qualify as a major non-event.