Elizabethtown The head of the Essex County Prevention Team voiced his concern over the return of a beer tent to the Essex County Fair in Westport.
Director Doug Terbeek said that while his organization was not about doing away with alcohol, they felt the fairgrounds was not an appropriate place to operate a beer tent.
“This is not prohibition,” Terbeek said. “This is saying that there are places in our lives where we can function without this and that is OK. You would best serve the county and certainly our youth if you kept the event alcohol free.”
Terbeek started his comments by commending the board for their approach to the subject.
“I read through the minutes from the meeting and was really impressed by the informed and honest conversation that you had,” he said.
Terbeek said that he wanted to add information to the discussion, including the need for proper training for anyone who would be working in the beer tent.
“I would encourage you to make sure that any of the folks serving at the tent would go through a training course,” Terbeek said. “It helps them to understand their liabilities and their responsibilities.”
Terbeek also said that he felt it was a good opportunity for some youth to see an alcohol-free environment.
“I think that it is special to have a fair where the presence of alcohol is not the norm,” he said. “Our young people already see a lot of the negative affects of adult alcohol use. It may be helpful for us to do everything that we can to show young people that we can have an enjoyable time without having alcohol.”
Elizabethtown Supervisor Margaret Bartley asked Terbeek if a beer tent could actually be used as a positive example of drinking in moderation.
“Would the beer tent actually create an example of responsible drinking, which is not there now because it is being smuggled in,” she said.
“Any drinking right now would be a parent showing their kids that they don’t care what the policy is right now, we are going to bring this in,” Terbeek said. “It is a good point, but we would request that no beer or alcohol be allowed on the grounds.”
The Ways and Means Committee later passed a resolution to allow the return of a beer tent on a one year trial basis at the fair, which will be voted on by the full board at its May 7 meeting.