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After Near Debacle With Oktoberfest, Utah Liquor Board Reviews Its Rules

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(credit: Johannes Simon/Getty Images)

(credit: Johannes Simon/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – Utah’s liquor board is revising the way it grants permits for special events after an Oktoberfest celebration was nearly derailed this year when the board threatened to withhold a permit.

The Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control is hearing from cities, festivals and others as the department works to clarify the rules for special events. State liquor commissioners discussed the issue briefly at their monthly meeting Tuesday but took no action.

DABC spokeswoman Vickie Ashby said after the meeting that the revised rules should be ready for public review in the coming months.

“They’re just trying to be really thorough,” Ashby said.

In the meantime, Ashby said the alcohol commission is still approving events and festivals while reviewing the rules.

As of Tuesday’s meeting, the DABC had approved alcohol permits for about 40 events and festivals from August through October.

Earlier this year, state liquor commissioners cited a stricter interpretation of state law when they considered withholding the permit for Snowbird Ski Resort’s Oktoberfest.

Commissioners said the single-event permits appeared to be designed for events that benefit the community and are put on by nonprofits and charitable organizations, rather than for-profit businesses such as Snowbird.

The rule hadn’t changed recently, but commissioners said they were “tightening up” oversight of the permits.

Legislators and other critics said the possibility of a beer-free Oktoberfest hurt the state’s image.

The board relented, calling the festival “a valuable community event,” and beer-flowed at the long-running German festival.

Supporters said the event isn’t just about beer, but celebrates food, folk dancing and other activities.

The Oktoberfest controversy was the latest flare-up over Utah’s unique liquor laws. The alcohol control department was criticized last year for citing restaurants that served alcohol to customers without first making sure they intended to stay and eat.

The state rolled back some of the strictest liquor laws in 2009, when Utah stopped requiring bars to operate as members-only social clubs. State officials opted not to relax any more laws this year after Mormon church leaders said the regulations keep people safe.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

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