Riverhead could soon begin corralling vendors serving alcoholic beverages into beer gardens at large events ranging from the annual Country Fair in October to the annual Polish Fair in August.
Riverhead Community Awareness Program Executive Director Felicia Scocozza pitched the idea to the town board at a work session Thursday morning, pointing out that, by creating designated areas for consumption of alcohol, the town can help its youth make responsible decisions about alcohol, and their events will take on a more family-friendly atmosphere.
Town Supervisor Sean Walter said he’s on board with the plan, but he thinks the town should designate more than one so-called “beer garden” per event in order to allow drinkers who are used to perusing Riverhead fairs with a beer in their hand to go beer-garden hopping through the festivities.
“It wouldn’t be realistic to just have one beer tent,” he said. “We may need multiple beer tents.”
Ms. Scocozza recommended the board set policies that alcohol vendors at events receive Training for Intervention ProcedureS (TIPS), a two-to-five-hour training which enables vendors to know the signs of intoxication and helps them recognize and handle underage drinkers.
She also suggested the board set policies for the serving size of alcoholic beverages and recommend the use disposable cups that identify the vendor where the alcohol was purchased. If the board decides to have an enclosed area for beer, she said, people should not be able to bring their own beer.
One worker at the entrance to the enclosure could also check IDs and put tamper-proof bracelets on the wrists of everyone over the age of 21 who enters, so that workers know if people are underage before they are served.
In the past, Riverhead has asked the Manorville and Jamesport Fire Departments to cordon off drinking to beer gardens at their events, and town board members said they believe the policy should be enforced across the board if they’re going to request that event organizers put together beer gardens.
“We can’t make one do it and not make others do it,” said Councilman John Dunleavy.
“You’re making it more family friendly,” said Ms. Scocozza. “It’s a positive thing.”