Underage drunks and their families to be tossed at Jam

Mesa County officials and Country Jam organizers say this year they won’t just warn parents about their drunken, underage children.

They’ll ask them to leave.

In years past, intoxicated underage youth at the multi-day music festival with their family would not necessarily be asked to leave the show. This year, new signs will be posted warning that underage drinking is not tolerated and that youth found intoxicated will be escorted off the property.

Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland said that in years past, deputies and Country Jam organizers “felt bad” about kicking kids out if they were at the concert with their family.

“This year (the parents) are going to leave too,” Rowland said.
Mark Steen, one of Country Jam’s owners, said he has no problem carrying out the tougher policy.

“It sends a loud message,” he said.

Steen was before the commission on Monday to renew the event’s liquor license and to approve a new contract for security and monitoring of health issues with the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department and the Mesa County Health department.

Jam attendees may notice fewer deputies but more private security guards. The Sheriff’s Department also is handing over control of the campgrounds to Country Jam’s private security.

There will be eight fewer deputies at Country Jam than last year.

“Part of it is the downturn in the economy,” said Debbie Murray, finance director for the Sheriff’s Department.

According to Country Jam’s contract with the county, the reduction in deputies was done this year “because of the economic condition of the country.”

The reductions trimmed the contract with Country Jam by $25,000 from last year.

More training also will be given to private groups who operate many of the alcohol-serving booths at Country Jam to raise money for their organization.

“We have some service groups that don’t understand their responsibility,” Steen said.

But no one was fooled into thinking there will not be any underage drinking at Country Jam

“I don’t care what rule or law you have in place, somebody is going to find a way around it,” said Commissioner Craig Meis.

Steen admitted as much.

“We struggle every year with underage drinking,” he said. “We just try and not do the same thing every year.”


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