Alcohol allowed at some McCreery Park events in Saluda

Published 2:44 pm Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Saluda Board of Commissioners decided by a 3-1 vote this week to allow Top of the Grade concert participants to bring alcohol to the events as well as alcohol to be served at McCreery Park for this year’s Green River Games and Green Race awards.
Saluda City Council met Monday, April 14 and amended the city’s ordinance that previously banned alcohol from city property. The ordinance was amended and resolutions were approved to allow alcohol at the Top of the Grade concerts and at the Green Race and Green River Games awards ceremonies, all to be held at McCreery Park downtown. Commissioner Leon Morgan voted against amending the ordinance and approving resolutions to allow alcohol at the events.
Saluda Mayor Fred Baisden said the city was approached by John Grace, director of the annual Green Race and the Green River Games and asked if the awards ceremonies could be moved to McCreery Park. Baisden said the races bring 300-500 people to town each year and the Green Race awards ceremony has been done in previous years behind Thompson’s store. The ceremony is running out of room and Grace asked if there was an area at the old skate park for the race to have vendor booths and tents, with Baisden saying he thinks they have a beer tent or maybe more than one beer tent at the event.
Commissioners were told that the event has sponsors, such as Sierra Nevada in the past, which ropes off an area where people either pay to get admission or show an identification and beer sponsors give away their product. The events start early in the morning and are complete by the afternoon.
Saluda attorney Bailey Nager said the city has an ordinance that says no alcohol on city property, so commissioners need to amend the ordinance to say no alcohol unless the board of commissioners allows it for a particular event. Nager also said the fact that the city allows alcohol for one event doesn’t necessarily mean they will pass a resolution to allow it for another event. He suggested letting the year 2014 be a trial year and the city allow alcohol for a couple events and decide later if the city wants to continue in the future.
Saluda commissioners asked how Tryon handles allowing alcohol at events at Harmon Field.
Nager said the Blue Ridge Barbecue Festival likely has a blanket resolution to allow alcohol to be sold there every year, but smaller events such as a shrimp festival come to Tryon commissioners every year asking to serve alcohol at their event. Users of the park are required to obtain any necessary ABC permits if alcohol is to be sold at the events.
Baisden said along with the Green River Games and Green Race requests, the city also has Top of the Grade concerts where people have brought their own wine.
“Last year when we had Top of the Grade concerts people brought wine there and consumed it,” Baisden said; “illegally I guess you could say. It has been suggested we allow them to bring their libations there to the concerts.”
Commissioners also approved a resolution 3-1 to allow people to bring malt beverage or unfortified wine to the concerts, with Morgan also voting against the resolution saying, “absolutely not.”
Resident Ellen Rogers said while the Green Race is self policed concerning alcohol, she is a little leery of opening up alcohol at a public place with a map telling people where it is allowed. She said it’s a slippery slope to say people can drink alcohol at the Top of the Grade concerts because it may cause people to think they can also drink on the streets at events such as Coon Dog Day. She suggested the city have more specific requirements such as checking identifications.
Resident Betsy Burdett also said it seems to her like allowing alcohol at the concerts is “an open can of worms.”
Nager said state law will still apply as far as underage drinking or any persons who attempt to provide alcohol to minors.
Resolutions were approved for people to bring their own beer or wine to the Top of the Grade concerts, which begin in May as well as the Green River Games in September and the Green Race in November.
The Top of the Grade concerts are sponsored by the Small Town Main Street program and funding for the musicians has been through a Polk County Community Foundation grant, making the concerts free to the public. The concerts are held at the park on the second and fourth Fridays from May through September.
The first concert will be on May 9 with all concerts being from 7-9 p.m.

2014 Top of the Grade concert schedule
May    9:    Sound Investment
May    23:    Phil & Gaye Johnson
June    13:    Sound Investment
June    27:    One Leg Up
July    11:    Sound Investment
July    25:    Aaron Burdette
Aug.    8:    Sound Investment
Aug.    22:    Bayou Diesel
Sept.    12:    Sound Investment
Sept.    26:    Scoot Pitman

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