Consider beer sale at the fair carefully

— For years, the Okanogan County Fair has been viewed by residents as a place their children can “run free,” without fear of alcohol, drugs and other issues. Parents have allowed their children to go to the midway, visit animal barns, wander through 4-H exhibits and visit the food court alone. At the same time, fair officials have been dealing with the harsh realities of financing a county fair at a time when expenses are going up and support dollars are declining.

Enter the plan for a beer garden at this year’s Okanogan County Fair.

Fair officials are considering the idea as a means to give adults something to do when children are exploring the fair. A beer garden would also generate revenue that could help offset expenses.

While a beer garden would be a new addition to the Okanogan County Fair, it’s not uncommon for other fairs to include an area for adults to imbibe. Or, it could be a great fundraiser for a local civic club.

Clearly, there are pros and cons to the proposal. And fair officials need to consider carefully the decision to allow beer sales.

Parents want to maintain the safe environment for children. And they want to know their youth won’t be exposed to alcohol. Some would prefer a beer garden be added; others oppose the idea.

Should fair officials decide to allow a beer garden, they need to make sure it doesn’t take away from the family atmosphere the fair is known for. They also need to make sure to keep it a low-key addition by placing it in an out-of-the-way corner of the fairgrounds.

A beer garden could be a workable idea at the fair, provided it isn’t allowed in the middle of the food court or other areas children frequent.

Regardless of their decision, we encourage fair officials to weigh the pros and cons carefully. We encourage them to weigh carefully the balance between the family atmosphere and the addition of beer.


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