Elizabethtown Westport Supervisor Daniel Connell said he was surprised.
Speaking during the April 30 Ways and Means Committee meeting, the Fair Committee chair from Westport said that he did not expect a request from the Agricultural Society to bring back a beer tent at the Essex County Fair for a one-year trail would be “so controversial.”
“This request by the fair board has been under serious discussion for the past three years,” Connell said. “This decision was not entered into lightly. It is a common practice at most of the fairs throughout New York to sell alcohol, including at the New York State Fair.”
Supervisors voted 11-5 to move the request for a beer tent to the full board meeting May 7, where it will be brought to a weighted vote.
Connell said that the tent and the liquor license had already been purchased for the beer tent, adding that the county had previously adopted a policy for alcohol use which the fair would fall under.
“This is a one-year trial,” Connell said. “No one is asking for the permanent permission of this board. It seems that the fair is being singled out because there are other organizations that use the grounds but now the fair.”
Connell said that the fair board had done its homework on the matter and asked his fellow supervisors to “respect” their work.
“I would ask that this board respects the fair board’s years of discussion on the matter and their recommendation,” he said. “I want this board to know that this is not a fly-by-night thing.”
County Chair and Jay Supervisor Randy Douglas said that he would support the measure, adding that he could be seen as a hypocrite if he did not.
“I am involved with celebrations in my own town where I have worked in the beer booth,” Douglas said. “With the new rules having a confined area for drinking does help. The events are more responsible and everyone is more aware of their surroundings. The plans that Mr. Connell have put in place are appropriate.”