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Heritage Day beer sales approved

AHOSKIE – Beer will be sold at this year’s Heritage Day in Ahoskie.

After hearing no one oppose or favor the measure during a public hearing here Tuesday morning, members of the Ahoskie Town Council approved a change to Chapter 3 of the town’s Municipal Code regarding the sale and consumption of malt beverages on town property.

The proposal was favored by a 4-1 vote with Councilwoman Elaine Myers standing alone in opposition.

The measure was brought to Council’s attention at their April meeting. There, the Ahoskie Jaycees proposed selling beer during the Friday night (Oct. 6) portion of Heritage Day. No alcoholic beverages have been sold on-site during the first two Heritage Day celebrations.

After researching the issue, Ahoskie Town Manager Tony Hammond devised a plan. By implementing a change in the Municipal Code, Hammond would be allowed to issue a one-day permit for the sale of malt beverages on a specific date at a specific location. The measure is also accompanied by strict monitoring requirements.

“This change would only apply to this one specified event during Heritage Day,” Hammond explained.

The new ordinance, as approved on Tuesday, reads as follows:

“No person shall consume malt beverages, beer, alcohol beverages or fortified wine or spirituous liquors on property owned or occupied by the town unless a valid permit is obtained from the Town Manager.

“The Town Manager is hereby authorized to issue a special one day permit during the Heritage Day Festival that would allow the sale and consumption of malt beverages. This permit would only be valid for the area designated inside the Soccer Field at the corner of Main Street and Curtis Street. All sales and consumption must be within the designated area and shall be limited to the hours associated with the band concert of the Heritage Day Festival.”

In prior meetings with the Jaycees, the Heritage Day Planning Committee had received guarantees that the beer sales area would be separated by a fence from the children’s area of the festival. The Jaycees also promised to closely monitor those entering the beer sales area by checking for ID’s and issuing wrist bands for those ages 21 and over.

Those discussions also involved Ahoskie Police Chief Troy Fitzhugh who, at the April meeting, stated he did not have a problem with beer sales at Heritage Day. He indicated that Ahoskie Police officers would be in and around the festival location.

The Friday (Oct. 6) night portion of Heritage Day features a live band, food and soft drinks as well as amusement rides, all capped off by a fireworks display.

At the April meeting, Trey Byrum of the Ahoskie Jaycees said the profits from the sale of beer would be used to help pay for the band and the fireworks.

“It’s not like we will be promoting it (beer sales),” Byrum told Council members at the April meeting. “We’re not making this into a beer party. This is just an effort to offer a beverage to those who wish to partake. We see it as the same as offering a hot dog or a soft drink.”

Hammond added that the Ahoskie Jaycees will provide their own insurance for this event, naming the town as the co-insurer.