There's no beer flowing at the Essex County Fair. Unlike nearby Franklin and Clinton County fairs, alcohol is not permitted or sold on the fairgrounds in Westport, NY.
“The fact that we have a family activity every year that's a pretty good draw on the county and alcohol's not served is pretty significant,” said Doug Terbeek, who does not support serving alcohol at the fair.
Lawmakers are one step away from changing that. On Monday, the County Board of Supervisors Ways & Means members approved its resolution to allow beer and wine sales.
“It's a huge revenue generator,” explained Supervisor Dan Connell (D – Westport). “The distributor will more than likely be selling national brand beers. We're hoping in the future to have just local breweries and not only sell their product but also to do educational programs like everyone else at the fair does."
Breweries we spoke with said the problem with selling at fairs is the expense. But Lake Placid Pub & Brewery has already expressed interest. “If we do [participate], the main reason would be exposure. Craft beer would be a great addition to any kind of fair as it is locally made and people appreciate that,” Steve Kroha, General Mgr. of Lake Placid Pub & Brewery, told us.
If approved next week, the beer tent will be build next to the grand stand. “We are renting a tent. When people come in, they'll have to swipe their license and a card reader so we'll have record of everybody that comes in and goes out,” said Supervisor Connell. Supervisor Connell is also on the Essex County Fair Board. He says, the Board is working closely with law enforcement.
Four deputies are usually assigned to fair duty but that may need to go up.
“If it's set up like a bar room, then obviously we would be more concerned and more likely to police it heavier,” said Essex County Sheriff Richard Cutting. “We're going to have to play it by ear to see how it goes, where it's set up. It's way early in the plans yet to make any plans on our part."
“Everybody can benefit from this. We're not going to have people on the fair grounds that are walking around dead drunk. This will be very controlled. They'll be a limited number of drinks they can have,” said Supervisor Connell.
The final vote goes in front of the full Board of Supervisors next Monday.