June 21, 2014 12:09 am

Some Edmonton festivals opting for more relaxed liquor licences

Watch above: Festival season is well underway in Edmonton. And often, festivals and beer gardens are part and parcel. But as Quinn Ohler reports, change could be on the way as some look to go gardenless.

EDMONTON – Festival season is well underway in Edmonton, and often times with summer festivals come beer gardens. But it appears more Alberta festivals are steering away from the traditional gardens, choosing instead to license the entire event site.

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The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission says it has seen an increase in the number of site-wide liquor licences it has granted over the past few years. The licence allows festival-goers to roam the event grounds with alcoholic beverages instead of being confined to a closed off beer garden.

Interstellar Rodeo, which is held at the Heritage Amphitheatre in Hawrelak Park, has taken the site-wide approach for three years now.

“We like the idea that parents are able to sit and listen to the music at the same time as their kids and enjoy a nice glass of wine while they’re doing it,” said Aimee Hill, with Interstellar Rodeo.

The AGLC says the progressive liquor licences are handed out on a case-by-case basis. AGLC spokesperson Jody Korchinski says at certain events the site-wide approach is actually much safer.

“We have seen in some areas where a beer garden can increase demand to get into that area. And then if it’s difficult to get in, they may be encouraged not to leave.”

Festivals applying for the site-wide licence must follow a few guidelines:

  • Fence securing the venue’s perimeter
  • Controlled entry
  • Police and fire approved safety plans

But, some festival organizers say it’s not for them.

“We would have to have the entire area enclosed in order to do that and then all of our art exhibits would be inside that venue, as well,” explained Amber Rooke, executive artistic director of the Works Art & Design Festival.

The 13-day festival spans 25 venues throughout downtown, so a beer garden is the way to go, Rooke says.

“It’s a flow consideration; we want people to be able to go freely from outside of the square to inside of our exhibits.”

Many of those taking in a live musical performance at the Works festival in Churchill Square Friday night like the idea of walking the grounds with a drink, but say they will continue to attend festivals regardless of what type of liquor sales they offer.

With files from Quinn Ohler, Global News. 

 

© Shaw Media, 2014

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