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DABC approves new rules for festivals and events after ‘Oktoberfest fiasco’

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Posted at 4:23 PM, Jun 23, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-24 09:46:46-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s liquor control authority has approved new rules for festivals and events after a brouhaha over Snowbird’s popular Oktoberfest.

On Tuesday, the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission voted unanimously to modify its rules for “single event permits” that allow festivals and events to serve liquor. The changes were drafted in the aftermath of controversy surrounding Snowbird’s application, and the DABC considering not allowing Oktoberfest to have beer.

The idea of “Oktoberfest without beer in Utah” drew international attention and prompted legislative hearings, but festivals all over Utah were impacted as the DABC commission wrestled with what was truly a “community event” that the permits were legally intended for.

“It essentially, I think, is a total revamp of the rule,” DABC Commission Chairman David Gladwell said as the commission unanimously voted to approve it.

The rule offers new guidelines for community events and festivals, including:

  • DABC recommends a 30 day window to apply for single-event permits, but will accept them within 7 days of an event;
  • There is an appeals process for an event denied a permit (and DABC must state why an event was denied);
  • DABC encourages events to get “local consent” from government entities before submitting applications for liquor service;
  • For-profit or non-profit is no longer a consideration by the DABC, but rather if it is a “community event;”
  • Liquor law violations may not necessarily mean a denial for a permit of a future event (provided changes are made next time);
  • In response to public comments, DABC has removed “definition of a public event;”
  • DABC will consider doing away with “beer gardens” (fenced off areas where beer or wine is served) if event planners agree to hire additional security.

The rule will be sent out for public comment for 30 days before being formally adopted.