Commissioners Discuss Beer Garden Request for July Windmill Classic

LPI Logo

LPI Logo

Representatives from Lamar Partnership Incorporated, LPI, appeared before the Prowers County Commissioners to discuss any needed documentation and permission to host a beer garden for the annual Windmill Classic held at the Lamar ballfield complex each July. The LPI board decided to cancel the third try for a Hotter than Hell music and craft festival for downtown Lamar, as the last event wound up in the red.  Board members believe it would be more profitable and with less effort, to host a beer garden at the well-attended annual Windmill Classic and use the proceeds to help finance already existing local events.

This would be the first time a beer garden was available at the adult softball event, now entering its 26th year this summer and it’s also a touchy subject given the resistance last year’s first-time beer garden received during a special events permit request for a garden at the annual Sand and Sage Fair.  Since the ballfield land was donated by the Eddleman family in the 1960s, the property has been county-owned, but city managed.  LPI President, Lisa Carder and Vice-President, Tera Binder described the nature of the proposed beer garden for the commissioners during their meeting, April 11th and requested permission to use the area.

Carder said LPI was approached by Lamar Parks and Recreation to see if they would be interested in bringing the issue before the commissioners and from there to the Lamar City Council for its approval. She explained, “The garden would be sent up inside one of the tee ball fields with extra fencing for security purposes.  LPI staff would serve beer and sell tickets and the beer trailer would be inside the fenced area.  Some food vendors would also be in operation.  Several LPI board members are already TIPS certified, but more would receive training for the event.”

Precedence has already been set, as Tera Binder commented that the city Parks and Rec Department now sells permits so players can have their own beer at the park during these games. She added, “So this garden would offer more control for people to be ID’d and of legal age and not overserved during the games,” which are scheduled this year for July 8th and 9th.  Carder said the permit would run until midnight both nights, but the garden would shut down prior to that.

County Commissioner, Henry Schnabel, asked why are you bringing this request to the commissioner’s attention. LPI Executive Director, Angie Cue,  stated the land is owned by the county, but is leased to the City of Lamar, so this will be the first process to attaining a special events permit.  County Attorney, John Lefferdink explained the land has been leased to the city since around 1960, “So the city would be the ones to make the call on the permit.”  He added that the lease doesn’t mention alcohol being permitted or not permitted.

Jana Coen, Prowers County Clerk and Recorder, explained that such a request requires permission from the landowner. Commissioner Wendy Buxton-Andrade commented that the commissioners never gave permits to the individual teams that play in the Windmill Classics in the past.  Coen added that for a special events permit, landowner approval is needed which was unlike the team players receiving permission to bring their own beer to the games.

Commissioner Schnabel, who opposed the beer tent for last year’s Sand and Sage Fair, asked Lefferdink if the lease stipulated the land be used for youth oriented events. Lefferdink replied, “It’s limited to public purpose, but did not specify it was to be used only for youth events, so there was nothing further on purposes or function.  Carder explained that the Windmill Classic is regulated for players over the age of 18, it’s not a family function and all players had to be graduated from high school.  Commissioner Schnabel reiterated his opposition to the request, adding, “I am adamantly opposed to the sale of alcohol at events like this, on public facilities, but I do want you to know,” he said, addressing Carder and Bender, “that I’m not opposed to you, just to the sale.”  He stated that he has been unhappy with the encroachment of alcohol at the fairground and around young lives in general.

Carder added that LPI carries liability insurance coverage for these events and the chamber has held other events in the past that has featured a beer garden. John Lefferdink said commissioners and members of the public will be able to state their viewpoints on the request at the city council public hearing on the permit.  He added that he wanted to review the most recent land agreement which dated back to 1975 regarding landowner input, but there was no particular action required from the county commissioners at this point.  The request, he said will be deferred to the Lamar City Council for action on their part.

By Russ Baldwin


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