Utah Oktoberfest likely to include beer after all

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 16, 2014 at 7:38 pm •  Published: June 16, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Beer is back on the table for a 40-year tradition at a Utah ski resort — Oktoberfest — after an apparent turnabout by the state liquor board.

The panel last month warned it might withhold a permit for the annual Snowbird Ski Resort event under a stricter interpretation of state law.

The warning, say critics, painted Utah as staunchly sober and ignored years of protocol that worked just fine. It also has hurt the state's image, making Utah a "laughing stock," said Democratic state Sen. Jim Dabakis, of Salt Lake City.

Some legislators at Monday's Administrative Rules Committee meeting wondered whether they should rewrite the part of Utah code that led to the apparent policy reversal.

They called on representatives from the state liquor commission and its policing arm, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, to explain what happened.

The state code hasn't changed recently, but the new policy came amid turnover in department leadership in the past few years.

The warning to Snowbird was part of an effort to "tighten up" oversight of such permits, commission chairman David Gladwell said earlier this month. The license is meant for one-time community events — not for running attractions aimed at turning a profit, he said.

On Thursday, Snowbird handed in its bid to continue the weekend festival that runs from August to mid-October, when fresh powder blankets the slopes. It will likely get the go-ahead when the board votes next week, said John Nielsen, one of seven commissioners.

Sal Petilos, director of the alcohol control agency, said he also thinks the resort will get approval.

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