Clallam County eyes two-day beer garden for fair

PORT ANGELES — A two-day beer garden during the Clallam County Fair’s rodeo received a positive reception during the county commissioners’ regular work session.

The Monday proposal will continue moving through the county’s approval process.

“Of all the committees I have been on, this one hasn’t been the hardest, but it has taken the most time,” said Laurie Davies, a Washington State Commissioner and former Clallam County Fair Commissioner. “We set out to see how a beer garden could legally and socially fit in. Because that is the issue: Does a beer garden belong at the Clallam County Fair, and what would it look like?”

The county would have to seek bids from a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to operate the beer garden and the application would have to be approved by the state Liquor and Cannabis Board, which would grant a special occasion license, commissioners Randy Johnson and Mike French were told.

Commissioners Mark Ozias was absent Monday.

Davies said the beer garden would be located east of the grandstand and would start one hour before the rodeo and end one hour after completion of the rodeo on Friday and Saturday.

It would serve only beer and would have a drink limit.

The idea first was brought up in 2018 by a visitor to a county fair board meeting, Davies said.

After two years without a county fair, the idea still was on the fair board agenda as “old business,” she said.

Comments the fair board received ran the gamut and included people saying they would not go back to the fair if it had a beer garden, Davies said.

Many also said they wanted it as far away as possible from the main part of the fairgrounds and the carnival, and they didn’t want it to last all four days, she said.

When the proposal was presented to the fair board on May 3 for a vote, seven of the 10 members present voted “yes,” one voted “no” and two abstained, Davies said. Three members did not attend the meeting and she did not ask them about how they would have voted.

Tom Reyes, the county’s risk management director, said the state Liquor and Cannabis Board will be looking at whatever plan the nonprofit has for its beer garden and issuing the special occasion license.

“From a risk perspective, 501(c)(3) is the best way to go. It will be closely watched because it will be the first beer garden that we’ve had. For us to believe that alcohol is not being consumed out there is not realistic.

“There’s people out there at tailgates who are serving up alcohol. So having this beer garden will help us to control it a little bit better and bring in additional revenues,” he said.


Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at brian.gawley@sound

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