Grow Up, You Wine-Drinking Baby

Boo. Hoo:

“We wanted to offer festival goers a chance to buy a beer and a snack, take that onto a blanket with their family and listen to jazz,” said Mr. Schwisberg. “But on Friday, the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch [LCLB] told us it was a beer garden or nothing.”

Accusing B.C. of having the most archaic liquor laws in Canada, Mr. Schwisberg said Sunday he decided to withdraw all liquor licence applications for the festival, rather than accept such confined access to alcohol.

“Only in B.C. are jazz festivals subject to this kind of restriction. So the event will go ahead, but our main, ticketed venues will be alcohol free.”

Full story over at the Globe and Mail. Let me say that I don’t have a lot of sympathy for Arnold Schwisberg of the Jazz on the Mountain Festival in Whistler, B.C., simply because this is how it works in a lot of places in Canada. The “archaic” liquor laws he’s talking about? The “dark ages” he thinks British Columbia are in when it comes to liquor laws? From what’s described in the article, they don’t seem that different from what you’ll find at a festival like, say, the Winnipeg Folk Festival, which has been running forever.

Literally, forever. I think it was a seventh day of creation thing. He — that’s the capital He, just so you know — had the day off, but he wound up looking for a make-work project around the ol’ place, so he set up the festival. “But God,” asked all the beasts, “we’re down with the scheduled Joan Baez in approximately 1,900 years” — we’re going with a strict Creationist understanding, see — “but what about alcohol and stuff?”

God thought about for about half-a-second. “Well, eventually, I will leave this up to provincial governments, but I don’t think having a beer garden, where people can drink while minimizing the chance of them passing that alcohol onto minors, is a crazy thing. Let’s get that started here.”

(Admittedly, the WFF didn’t really get started until musical instruments and the like were created but it’s always been good times, nonetheless.)

This isn’t unreasonable! Especially when part of your festival is made up of free day events. And that this festival organizer was shocked by the outcome so close to when Jazz on the Mountain was supposed to be taking place makes it seem like he didn’t do the research.

The real solution for Mr. Schwisberg: people bring their own flavoured vodka in water bottles. That’s how a member of my family or two will do it when going to a public pool. There. Problem solved.

Author: James Brotheridge

Contributing Editor with Prairie Dog.

9 thoughts on “Grow Up, You Wine-Drinking Baby”

  1. I would be pleased to hear from you to explain why your inferences, assumptions and conclusions are incorrect. Principles of responsible journalism would have, I respectfully suggest, required you to contact me for comment before you write a critical piece. Regards.

  2. This is incredibly bad writing. Convoluted and asinine, rife with errors, and for what reason? People are reading your words, you have a forum. Recognize that as a privilege and stop being lazy, or make room for someone with an actual idea to convey. Mr. Shwisberg, I wouldn`t worry too much about calling this journalism.

  3. Our family just had a similar conversation at a recent festival. There were 10 of us going, all adults, and we wanted to have some sangria in the park while we watched the musicians. We made it in a cooler and brought it in. However, we were all a bit nervous about it. Then we realized how ridiculous that is, and how brainwashed we are that alcohol will somehow make us all lose control of ourselves. Picnicing in Europe, you can bring your wine with you, and no one takes their top off and dances on the stage. Good for Arnold to sending a message about how ridiculous Canadian liquor laws really are.

  4. This application was not made in a vaccuum. We had extensive written materials, Site Plans, hundreds of hours of work, multiple meetings with municipal staff, the local liquor inspector, the RCMP. At no time was it suggested by anyone to me that any licence offiered would be “beer garden or nothing.” At all times, the concept of a “stadum-style” or “wide-zone SOL” licence was embraced and our entire f&b plan turned on it. The objectionable condition “no minors in the SOL zone” was put on us in a most untimely way, after we had already committed to the full scale costs of a wide zone SOL liquor service (tenting, fencing, security, $15,200 to the RCMP for extra policing, etc.)

    It is the community to decide how to configure its community events and festivals, not the regulator. This is the conclusion reached by the Ontario government after massive public consultation and implementation of new regulations. Google “Ontario Modernizes Liquor Laws”. So if Ontario, after spending millions and generating tens of thousands of pages of public submission and inquiries, concludes that “a beer garden is an unnecessary restriction” – I’ve asked the LCLB to explain why they have concluded the opposite and what’s the basis for the “public safety” concern they advance but do not specify. I get no answers.

    “No minors in the SOL zone” is not the status quo in BC either. Vancouver maybe, because of the tight community standards almost unique to that city. Plenty of community events and festivals in BC have wide zone SOLs. For instance, last year in Whistler the RBC Granfondo had 4000 people in a wide zone SOL with minors present. There were no incidents. You can also search the 129+ comments under The Globe And Mail online version of their article on JOMAW, where others record their experiences at wide zone SOLs in BC where there were no incidents either.

    I applied for an SOL on the basis approved by the community, consistent with its standards, for a brand new venue configured for “water-tight” fencing. In my opinion, there couldn’t have been a more appropriate, well-considered and thoroughly approved application.

    There is simply no reasonable basis for the LCLB to ignore the public interest as expressed by the unanimous endorsement given to JOMAW by the Whistler Town Council in a Special Resolution made on June 21.

  5. I’m not clear about the regulatory details, but I remember seeing Another Roadside Attraction (Tragically Hip, Wilco, Sheryl Crow, Ashley MacIsaac) at Thunderbird Stadium in Vancouver in 1997 or so. Unlike other stops on the tour, like the old cow pasture concert site on the outskirts of Saskatoon, it was a dry show. It was a beautiful July day, and a cold beer (or two) would have been nice. But it was no go. There did seem to be a rather liberal policy toward marijuana use though.

  6. Interesting you mention the Winnipeg Folk Festival. They did not get a beer garden for the first 20 or so years of its existence. The bags were checked going in and it was a dry site. And it was three or four wonderful days of music.

    Once they introduced the beer tent, there started to be things there never used to be, like fights and thefts from the blankets. Attendance was not affected by the presence of the beer tent. The line-up and the weather governed the profitability of the festival.

    Frankly, I miss the old days of no booze and only the gentle waft of a hint of pot occasionally in the air.

    I’m an old folkie, can you tell?

  7. I was in Montre’al,for a few months, 1996ish.
    Me from Cowtown, and she was a Montrealer were walking by a restaurant, and a sign in the window ” porte votre vin”. I ask her her, “does that say, Bring your( own ) wine”?
    She told me that some restaurants never needed to apply for liquor licenses, because there aren’t any by-laws from stopping anyone from going to the LB before going to a food establishment, and drinking yer own hooch. As long as your order food.

  8. I’d rather smell, and enjoy mother nature than Diesel exhaust constantly going through my neighborhood.

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