Festivals keep beer garden fences in place

Beer garden fences won’t be likely coming down any time soon at North Okanagan festivals.

The provincial government is moving ahead with liquor reforms that include eliminating beer garden fencing so people consuming alcohol can wander around freely at events.

“I don’t see us going away from the fencing,” said Wee Yee, executive director of Vernon’s Funtastic Summer Festival, adding that the policy changes will be reviewed.

“We look at it as a safety and security issue. The fence designates an area where you have beverages rather than having it wide open.”

Yee also believes a fenced beer garden also keeps patrons from coming in contact with vehicles on roads adjacent to the Funtastic grounds.

Lumby Days organizers will discuss the rule changes with the Lumby Lions Club, which hosts the beer garden at the June event.

“It’s a family festival so I hope they will continue to have fences up. It’s an adult area and some adults like to have that,” said Merna Alexander, Lumby Days president.

The police are also reviewing the potential implications of not having fenced beer gardens.

“It will add to the challenge of policing an event,” said Supt. Reg Burgess, officer in charge of the Vernon/North Okanagan RCMP.

Another change from the provincial government is the sale of mixed-spirit drinks at events.

Yee believes Funtastic will stick to just beer and wine as the goal is not to provide full bar service.

“It’s a venue to have a beer and something to eat and relax. Having hard liquor can sometimes escalate consumption,” he said of the need to maintain a safe environment.

However, Music B.C. endorses allowing people to wander festivals with a beverage in their hand.

“Opening up music festivals to whole-site licensing over the ‘beer garden’ model is a very positive move,” said Bob D’Eith, Music B.C. executive director.

“This will allow families to stay together at events, reduce costs for festival organizers and make the festival experience that much better for all fans of live music.”








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