The return of a "beer tent" to the Essex County Fair is one step closer.
Members of the Department of Public Works Committee voted 5-2 to move a resolution to the Ways and Means Committee meeting April 16 that would allow a beer area during the annual event for a one-year trial run.
"The fair would like to go back to selling beer - just beer," Westport Supervisor Daniel Connell said. "Most fairs have gone back to it. It would be in a confined space and controlled. They are only allowed to buy a certain number of beers."
Connell said that one of the main reasons behind the return of the beer area would be to curtail the amount of alcohol that was entering the grounds.
"This dramatically cuts back on the number of beers that are brought onto the grounds," Connell said. "There is some money in it, but most fairs are doing it because it controls the amount that is brought into the grounds from outside."
Some supervisors questioned if county backing to approve the facility was a wise move.
"I have been in the beer tent before, but today is a different era," Moriah Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava said. "We support substance abuse and all of these different programs, and you have to wonder what kind of message we are sending if we do something that goes in the other direction."
"I really need to consider the long-term implications," Lewis Supervisor David Blades said. "I know there were a number of evenings when it got pretty ticklish over there. To me, its more of an image problem then it is anything else. The county may not be the one that is running the fair, but it is county-owned property."
"I do not think that it will improve the attendance," Schroon Supervisor Michael Marnell said. "I would rather not see the beer. I buy beer, I drink beer and I used to sell beer, but I would prefer not to see the beer there."
North Elba Supervisor Roby Politi said he felt the county was not sending the wrong message since they were not the organization running the fair.
"I would have a problem if this was Essex County running this operation, but we are not," Politi said.
He added that there are a number of situations throughout the county where towns were selling beer on property they owned.
" We sell beer on the municipal golf courses," Politi said. "I do understand the argument with regards to appearance and I do have a problem with that. If this is being done by the fair association and it is specific to this event, then I do not know if I have a problem with that."
Connell said that the members of the fair committee had been through all of the things that would be needed to sell beer at the fair, and that sales would be limited to only beer.
"There would be no wine or other alcohol," he said. "Our fair facilities committee went through everything we needed to on alcohol sales, including insurance and everything that has to be in place."
Connell said that the tent would be located near the center of the fairgrounds.
"There will be a tent set up and they will have to stay in the tent with the beer," Connell said. "There is an area for it to be consumed and the only place where it can be."
Connell said that the fair had previously stopped the practice of a beer tent due to liability concerns, but that the process for getting proper coverage has changed and a lot of other fairs have gone back to having a beer tent.
"If they are going to go through the state board and have an ABC officer, I do not have a problem with that," Chesterfield Supervisor Gerald Morrow said.
Connell, Morrow, Politi, Newcomb Supervisor and DPW Committee chair George Canon and St. Armand Supervisor Joyce Morency voted to pass the resolution on to the Ways and Means Committee. Voting against the motion were Scozzafava and Marnell, while Essex Supervisor Sharon Boisen and Keene Supervisor William Ferebee were absent from the meeting.
The resolution will be brought before the Ways and Means Committee Monday, April 30. If passed, it will go before the full board for a weighted vote the following Monday.