Anna City Council again votes no on sale of beer, wine at Union County Fair
The Anna City Council again has said no to a proposal to amend the city’s liquor ordinance to allow for the possible sale of beer and wine at the Union County Fair.
The issue was once again addressed at a regular meeting of the city council which was held Tuesday evening, May 2. The meeting was at Anna City Hall.
About a dozen people were in attendance at the meeting, including representatives of the Union County Fair Board and community members.
The county fair board’s governing body is looking at the possible sale of beer and local wine as a way to boost revenue for the financially strapped event.
The council previously had voted against taking action that would allow such sales at the fair. The fair takes place each August at the Anna City Park. The park is owned by the city and subject to municipal regulations.
Union County Fair president Mike Yates sent a letter to Mayor Steve Hartline, the four city council members and city attorney John Foley regarding the matter.
The letter recalled that last year, the fair board approached the city “with a request for an ordinance change to allow the sale of beer at a location in the Anna City Park during the week of the Union County Fair. Due to concerns of some of the council members the City decided against amending its ordinance.”
Following further discussion, Yates’ letter stated that “the Union County Fair Board has voted unanimously to submit another request for an ordinance change that would allow beer, and possibly local wines, to be sold at an entertainment pavilion located at the Anna City Park during the week of the Union County Fair.
“All fair board members agree that such sales, coupled with local entertainment, would provide much needed revenue for the fair.
“As we advised the council last year the State of Illinois has made substantial cuts in its financial support for the fair. These are making it harder and harder to keep our county fair operating as it has in the past.
“Due to the lack of State funding the fair has had to make cuts in many areas. We do not want to make further cuts.
“The proposed sale of beer and wine would provide a much needed independent revenue source for use by the fair, taking the place of diminishing state support, going into the future.”
The letter assured city officials that the entertainment pavilion would be located away from the fair’s midway and the grandstand, where many events take place during fair week.
The pavilion would be housed in a former large horse/mule barn. “It would be a fenced in area with the vendor providing all security for the facility,” the letter stated.
“The vendor will also ensure that the patrons of the entertainment pavilion will not be over served.
“In addition to the security being provided by the vendor, fair board members will routinely patrol the area.
“Patrons of the entertainment pavilion will not be permitted to leave the pavilion with beer or wine. There will be no sales on the Sunday of the Fair.”
The letter explained that alcohol already can be found at the fair.
“Last year fair board members and security confiscated substantial amounts of alcohol being brought into the park illegally by fair goers,” the letter stated.
“The Union County Fair Board believes the sale of beer and wine at the entertainment pavilion will provide greater control over alcohol use and will deter the patrons of the fair from illegally entering the park with alcohol.”
The letter stated that the fair board is looking to use local bands at the proposed pavilion. “This would provide local artists a venue for their talents, and expand the entertainment available at our fair,” the letter stated.
“The Union County Fair Board respectfully requests that in its deliberations concerning this issue, that the Anna City Council take into account the much needed financial benefit to our Union County Fair.
“Due to costs, county fairs are rapidly becoming a thing of the past. The current financial condition of the State of Illinois means that in all probability there will be further declines in the amount of financial support it will provide.
“The Union County Fair Board is hoping for an accommodation by the Anna City Council to allow the requested amendment.”
The letter from the fair board president was not read at the May 2 council meeting. Mayor Steve Hartline said that city officials had received the letter. In essence, the mayor said, the matter “comes down to the same issue as last year.”
Several of the community members who attended the meeting voiced opposition to the possible sale of beer and wine at the fair.
Concerns were voiced that if the city were to allow such sales, it would be setting an example, especially for young people. One person said that if beer and wine were allowed at the fair, she would never again attend the event.
One of the fair board representatives echoed the sentiments of the letter and said that uncertainty surrounding finances could lead to the point where there would no longer be a fair.
City attorney Foley suggested that acting to amend the municipal liquor ordinance would offer a way for alcohol to be consumed legally, and not illegally, at the fair. He emphasized that such sales would involve the issuing of a special permit by the city.
Foley noted the close relationship between the city and fair, and a view that “we all want to see it keep going.”
City council member Brandon Bierstedt suggested that the controlled situation which has been proposed in connection with the possible sale of beer and wine is the “best answer we can have.” He noted that if a problem were to arise, the city will act.
“I will vote for it, because it will be controlled and will raise funds for the fair,” Bierstedt said.
Bierstedt made a motion to amend the city liquor ordinance to allow for a special use permit regarding the possible sale of beer and wine at the fair.
A roll call vote was taken on the motion. City council members David Isom, Al Kamp and Martha Ann Webb voted no. Bierstedt and Mayor Hartline voted yes.
Following the vote, the city council moved on to other business.