Beer Garden at YC Fair gets tentative approval

The Yuma County Commissioners gave contingent approval for a beer garden at the 2021 Yuma County Fair & Rodeos.

The 2-1 vote came after a public hearing held during the board’s regular meeting, last Friday in the Yuma County Courthouse in Wray. It is contingent upon the Knights of Columbus’ plan to serve as the vendor, which has not been presented yet to the commissioners. Commissioner Robin Wiley cast the dissenting vote. Trent Bushner and Scott Weaver voted in favor, but with strict rules in place.
Besides reaching an agreement with the Knights of Columbus, the approval is only for the 2021 fair, the agreement will outline the maximum capacity in the beer garden, the number of workers, cutting off or not serving those visibly intoxicated, the vendors not drinking, no one under 21 allowed to even be in the beer garden, that the insurance includes Yuma County as additionally insured, no food except for the buyers BBQ, no free beer, and the commissioners having the ability to shut it down if any of them witness any issues.
Weaver made the motion.
About a half-dozen people attended the public hearing, including members of the Yuma County Fair Board.
Bushner outlined the proposal that had previously been presented by the Fair Board.
It calls for a beer garden opened during the Junior Livestock Sale on Monday night of the fair. It would be located in the old Sheep Barn next to the sale ring. The plan is to have a set-up so those in the beer garden still can bid on animals
The other time there would be a beer garden is 5 to 11 p.m. Tuesday of the fair, including the night show concert. It would be located outside of the grandstands.
It was explained the Knights of Columbus do the beer garden each year at the Logan County Fair in Sterling, and members of the Yuma Knights have helped there.
Public comment included representatives of the First Southern Baptist Church in Yuma, which provides courtesy cart rides from the parking lot to the fairgrounds each year. Crystal Terrell said the church has the same stance as in the past, that it might decide not to provide the courtesy carts during the times the beer garden is in operation. Pastor Chris Mulder questioned what measures would be in place to keep things under control. He also voiced a concern about pushback against the church.
Bushner said everyone appreciates the courtesy cart service, and he hopes it keeps going. He said he did not know why anyone would discriminate if the drivers did not take people to the beer garden, or provide the service at all during the beer garden times.
Weaver noted the carts mainly are for the elderly, so he hoped they would not pay the price.
Mulder noted a lot of the cart drivers are elderly and there is a concern if a person is unruly. He was told if there is a beer garden, there will be zero tolerance for that behavior. Terrell noted there already have been those type of situations in the past.
Fair Board member Jed Gleghorn said he in no way would judge the church, but also did not want to be judged for supporting a beer garden.
Pastor Mulder and Terrell said they are not judging, they just have concern about protecting their drivers.
Gleghorn and fellow fair board members Baylor Buck and Micah Seyler explained the board’s reasoning for proposing a beer garden — it would make it easier for law enforcement if it was isolated to one area, drinking already takes place at the fairgrounds so this would help control that while also generating revenue for the fair, noting that money for the fair keeps getting tighter. They also noted having it during the sale would help keep buyers more engaged instead of wandering off elsewhere.
County resident Cliff Leonhardt voiced support for the beer garden, noting that the county is missing out on revenue, and that people already walk around with cups during the fair. He also said it would help with bidding during the sale, allowing the youth to optimize their fair projects.
Commissioner Wiley said he likes to drink a cold beer as much as anyone. However, he explained that his philosophy is the fair is about the kids, and always has been, and didn’t think the fair was the place to have a beer.

“It’s hard for me to have a county-sanctioned beer garden,” he said.
Bushner and Weaver also voiced reservations, but also supported the proposal, but with many restrictions and regulations in place, as mentioned above. Weaver noted the fair is about the youth, but it is also about the whole community. Bushner acknowledged he owns a pub in downtown Yuma, so he understands the issues that arise when serving beer. He also acknowledged drinking already takes place during the fair, but it will not be tolerated if there is a beer garden. He said he would only support it based on the Knights of Columbus’ proposal showing it will be done the right way.
“There are risks,” Bushner said, “but I hope it can be mitigated a bit by having it controlled.”
The date the Knights of Columbus will make their presentation to the county commissioners was not known yet as of earlier this week.