It’s fair season.
Have you enjoyed a local fair lately? It’s great fun for the entire family.
You can enjoy music, food, rides, learn about agriculture and more.
Fairs bring in millions and billions!
Millions of guests flock to California fairs each year. Fairs help the State’s economy, too. According to the CA Department of Food and Agriculture, “The overall impact of spending by all participants at fair time and interim events resulted in a total economic impact on California of $2.55 billion in 2002.”
Most fairs generate sizable profits from alcohol sales.
Uncontrolled alcohol sales are risky
However, when fairs don’t control their alcohol sales, it creates serious problems. Fights, vandalism, underage drinking and drunk driving, to name a few.
That’s no fun for families or anyone else.
Some fairs have a permanent liquor license to sell alcohol year round. Others use nonprofit groups like the Elks Lodge, Kiwanis Club or Friends of the Fair to sell alcohol. These groups obtain a special daily license from the ABC to sell alcohol during fair time.
Why alcohol policies and training are vital
Whether it’s a permanent liquor licensee or a nonprofit group, it’s critical to implement written alcohol management policies (e.g., limiting servings, cup size, etc.) and require responsible beverage service training!
It makes things safer and more profitable for everyone: the licensee, servers and guests.
You know, volunteer alcohol servers are often surprised to hear…
… their legal liability for selling alcohol is the same as a full-time professional bartender or server! (I’ve had some walk out of my training class when they heard that.)
Here’s what can result from an illegal sale:
Sale of alcohol to a person under age 21: a $1,000 fine and or 24-36 hours of community service. (Some judges are including court costs and enhancements, which skyrockets the fine to $3,000 or more.) In aggravated cases, there could be jail time.
Serving an obviously intoxicated person (someone who looks or acts drunk): a $1,000 fine and/or six months county jail.
Not only that, the underage guest (who possesses, buys or drinks alcohol) can receive the same criminal penalty as the seller (plus driver’s license sanctions).
As for intoxicated guests, any guest who is drunk in public (unable to care for their own safety or the safety of others) can be arrested and charged with a crime.
The ABC and local law enforcement work at fairs
To ensure compliance with state and local laws, the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) and local police work at the fairs in uniform and undercover. Just like they do at liquor stores, nightclubs and other licensed establishments.
For example, the ABC and Paso Robles Police recently arrested 13 on charges of alcohol and minors in an undercover operation at the Mid-State Fair in San Luis Obispo. That included three vendors, two adults and seven minors in possession of alcohol, according to the San Luis Obispo Tribune.
If you’re looking for some family fun this summer, then check out a nearby California fair.
And if you’re selling alcohol at the fair, then stay safe and legal by following laws and policy–and attending training approved by the ABC.