In a 3-0 vote, the commission cited concerns about problems that alcohol might present at the family event, held March 17-19.
“Do you really need to serve alcohol? I had several phone calls from people on this, and they asked me to say no, and they are drinkers,” said commissioner Larry Don Suckla.
Ag Expo board member Shay Allred and director Radiance Beals requested the limited beer sales earlier this month, touting it as an added benefit for adult patrons and as a way to raise funds for the event’s programs.
“We’re needing to cover expenses for the Ranch Rodeo, and additional revenues would allow us to expand what is offered,” Allred said.
He pointed out that the Ag Expo caters to the agricultural industry and attracts a lot of professional, responsible adults from the region who would appreciate having a beer with their food or as they perused booths and equipment.
“We’ve heard support for the idea,” Allred said. “It doesn’t hurt to ask.”
The Ag Expo also has a youth-education component including animal exhibits and programs put on by the Colorado Agricultural Leadership Foundation (CALF).
The limited-beer sales plan would have kept beer sales and drinkers away from youth events, organizers said. Servers would be certified, no hard alcohol would be sold, and additional security was planned.
However, the county board ruled on the side of caution this year.
“The fact that extra security is needed points to potential problems,” said commissioner James Lambert. “It’s the wrong place for it, and may drive people away.”
Commissioner Keenan Ertel said troubles associated with alcohol and the presence of youth led him to vote against the proposal.
“Problems get magnified by intoxication,” he said. “It’s been tried before, and it did not pan out.”
Added Suckla, “A guy called and said ‘How about serving marijuana? It’s legal.’ He was making a point. It’s not all about profit.”