Country Jam must follow liquor advisory

Mesa County commissioners on Monday unanimously agreed to renew the liquor license for Country Jam and Rock Jam but attached conditions intended to curb underage drinking and serving intoxicated patrons.

The conditions require festival organizers to work with the Sheriff’s Department to post two signs. One, which will be posted at the entrance to the festival grounds, warns that underage drinkers will be ousted from the property.

The other, to be set up at all vendor locations that serve alcohol, advises customers that state law prohibits the sale of alcohol to intoxicated persons.

The stipulations were triggered by two incidents during Country Jam and Rock Jam last year that violated state laws that govern Country Jam’s liquor license.

In one incident, two women sold alcohol to a 20-year-old state Liquor Enforcement Division purchaser during Country Jam. In the other incident, a man sold alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person during Rock Jam.

In an agreement reached in March, the Liquor Enforcement Division suspended Country Jam’s liquor license for 30 days, with 14 of those days coming during this year’s country music festival. But the state agreed to stay the suspension and instead fine Country Jam $5,000. The agreement calls for the suspension to be served if Country Jam violates the state’s liquor code within the next year.

Brian Turner, an investigator with the Liquor Enforcement Division, said the two people who were cited for serving an underage person were volunteers who didn’t attend liquor service training.

Mark Steen, Country Jam’s operations manager, said he plans to hire someone to monitor alcohol sales and those employees and volunteers serving alcohol.

Commissioners said the county and Country Jam have worked together over the years to try to cut down on underage drinking and overservice but acknowledged they’ll likely never eliminate those problems at the festivals.

“There’s only so much you’re going to do to prevent this,” Commissioner Craig Meis said. “I don’t see how you’re going to police this into nonexistence.”

In other business, the board approved new commissioner district boundaries in conjunction with last year’s census. The changes place all of Orchard Mesa within District 3 and shift portions of Pear Park and Fruitvale from District 3 to District 2.


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