Our Opinion: Beer sales are on for this year's Crow Wing County Fair

One of the many ways in which the Crow Wing County Fair was unique among county fairs in Minnesota was the absence of beer sales during the annual event.


One of the many ways in which the Crow Wing County Fair was unique among county fairs in Minnesota was the absence of beer sales during the annual event.

It wasn't for lack of trying-year after year the Crow Wing County Fair Board sought a license to sell beer during the week of the fair, only to be shot down by either Oak Lawn Township or the Crow Wing County Board of Commissioners.

For 51 weeks of the year, the fair board historically has been allowed to sell beer at the fairgrounds, just not during the week of the annual Crow Wing County Fair. That's changed now, and beer will be up for sale when the fair opens it gates to the public July 30.

It's a move long overdue-not because it means there will finally be beer sold at the Crow Wing County Fair but because it will provide a much-needed source of revenue for the fairgrounds.

The change of heart came from the Crow Wing County Board, which in a 4-1 vote Tuesday, May 28, approved the fair board's special license to sell beer with 3.2% alcohol content at two locations at the fairgrounds-the free stage from 1-9 p.m. and the grandstand from 5-9 p.m. Voting against was Commissioner Rosemary Franzen, who has historically been against the sale of beer at the fairgrounds during the fair.


The Fair Board has the opportunity to introduce beer to the fair in a responsible way, with it being served in a controlled environment and with an already large law enforcement presence at the fairgrounds during the fair. It's worked at most other county fairs in the state, and Crow Wing County should give it a try.

We encourage fair organizers and county officials to take serious the concerns of groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, that adding beer to the fair potentially could add impaired drivers on local roadways. That's a true statement and can't be ignored.

What also can't be ignored is that beer sales have the potential to add $100,000 in revenue each year, according to fair officials. That's the crux of the issue for us, and it was the sentiment-that beer sales is only about the money-of both opponents and proponents in arguing their cases Tuesday at the Crow Wing County Board meeting. Again, this is a financial decision, and absent a better idea we feel it's time has arrived.

In 2016, this editorial board was supportive of beer sales, or any source of new revenue, because the annual county fair is an asset we'd like to not only keep but improve. If the fair board feels this is the best way to do that, we support them again.

The Crow Wing County Fair is a free fair and fair officials in the past have stated their desire to keep it that way. Selling beer is one way to keep it free and allow the fair to maintain its long tradition of bringing together people from all socio-economic parts of our county.

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