Riverhead considers ‘walk around’ booze ban at fairs

The days of walking street festivals with a beer in your hand may be coming to an end in Riverhead.

Lawmakers are considering changing the way alcohol is sold at festivals after the Riverhead Community Awareness Program came to them with some startling underage drinking statistics. Felicia Scocozza, from the program, says almost a quarter of 10th-graders and over a third of 12th- graders said that they have drank at a public event such as a fair or festival.

Two of the biggest events in Riverhead are the Country Fair and Polish Town Festival. At those events, local bars are allowed to sell alcohol to adults as they walk around.

To combat underage drinking and boisterous behavior, the town is considering requiring mandatory ID check wristbands or even a separate area like a "beer garden" to corral drinking. Some bar owners say that could flatten sales during one of the busiest times of the year.

Riverhead town officials say they understand the concerns of festival organizers and bar owners when it comes to selling alcohol at outdoor events. They say some sort of compromise has to be made.

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter says the Town Board will most likely move toward instituting ID check wristbands at the public events. The town says it will make its final decision on the rules in a few weeks.


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