No Whiskey at Brown County Fair

Once again, the Brown County Commission has made clear it will not support the sale of whiskey at the Brown County Fair.

Last month the Brown County Commission turned down the fair board’s proposal to sell whiskey in conjunction with the Dacotah Stampede Rodeo when it realized that state law prohibits the county from issuing a liquor license to itself—or, in this case, to the fair board, which is a subunit of the county. The Aberdeen VFW jumped up this week and applied for a liquor license to sell whiskey at the fair rodeo.

The VFW backed fair manager Derek Ricci’s argument that the county could make good money on whiskey sales. There would be no drinking and riding: rodeo goers would be limited to two drinks, available only in a roped-off area away from the grandstand… which seems silly to me, because why would I want to go buy whiskey if I’m going to miss the next big bull ride?

But the commission yesterday declined to make a motion for the VFW’s application, based on concerns expressed by Commissioners Nancy Hanson and Duane Sutton that whiskey doesn’t fit the family theme of the Brown County Fair.

I’m not sure all the beer-drinking the commission allows down in Centennial Village fits the family theme of the fair, either, but the commission made the right call in declining to authorize whiskey sales at the rodeo. As with gambling, the less we base funding for public goods on alcohol sales, the better. If the Brown County Fairgrounds are worth maintaining and improving, we should find the money and the political will to fund that maintenance and improvement without promoting activities with such significant social costs.

Besides, it’s a rodeo, not a booze bash. Take your kids and enjoy the riders!

3 Responses to No Whiskey at Brown County Fair

  1. Maybe a teetotaler isn’t the one to ask about whether booze should be sold somewhere. Let ’em drink whiskey!

  2. Nick Nemec

    Was this really an attempt to serve whiskey at the fair or is “whiskey” a code word for establishing a beer-wine tent at the rodeo? Would it have been limited to whiskey or would other hard liquor and mixed drinks been sold?

  3. Nick, the proposal was for “the exclusive sale of Pendleton Whiskey.”

    Ror, I think a teetotaler is the perfect person to ask. Touch not the cup!