By David Knox
The Lynchburg Music Fest is seeking to offer the sale of alcohol – liquor and wine, but not beer — on the festival grounds.
A Festival Permit has been tentatively approved by the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission for the festival on Aug. 23-24. TABC is the legal entity that controls all alcohol sales except for beer within the state of Tennessee. The TABC Festival Permit allows Lynchburg Music Fest to serve non-beer alcoholic beverages — liquor and wine — inside the secured and controlled event location during the festival only.
The TABC is expected to be in town late this week and fast-track approval, which seems to be all but a formality at this point.
“Lynchburg Music Fest is located in a historically dry county, so we’re very excited that we’ve been granted a festival permit for the occasion,” said Jonny Hill, founder of Lynchburg Music Fest, and owner/CEO of Igniter Productions. “Lynchburg has a rich history of whiskey distilleries, and this permit allows our festival-goers to truly experience the meaning behind our tagline, ‘Where Music Meets Whiskey.’”
Tennessee law authorizes a for-profit festival operator, or a third-party vendor who has contracted with the festival operator, to obtain a liquor-by-the-drink license for sales of alcohol for consumption on the premises of a festival that lasts up to seven days.
It was not Hill’s original intent, both he and Mayor Bonnie Lewis said, to obtain a liquor license. Hill was not even aware such a license existed until June, he said. “Being born and raised in Lynchburg, I fully understand the dry county laws. So we only had the VIP package area where it could be served.”
But when approached by the TABC and informed of the possibility of a Festival Permit, it seemed that to avoid confusion and security issues, since the VIPs and the artists would be allowed to have alcohol in certain areas, “it would be in everyone’s best interests that we move forward with the festival permit,” Hill said.
Hill wanted to make it clear that not everyone will have access to the areas where liquor can be purchased.
There will be four alcohol serving areas and six non-alcohol beverage areas. “The VIP area will have some and then and other areas. They will be a fenced and screened off area with scrim, so actually others won’t be able to even see it. And even if you’re a VIP, you can’t bring anyone underage in there. To even get in to the area where it is served, you have to have qualified wristband credentials and you will have been ID’d, so there won’t be people walking around the park drinking.
“And there will also be a limit of how many drinks you can purchase.”
In the even someone becomes intoxicated, “their wristbands will be cut and they will lose their festival privileges entirely,” Hill said emphatically.
Hill is adamant about keeping it a family event, and because he wants this to be a success, having things go well is very important to him he said. He’s had mnay production meeting, security meetings with CSC, the private security firm the event has contracted with, the Moore County Sherrif’s Department and other entities. Security cameras are in place and all workers have been told to immediately contact CSE workers if they see someone intoxicated, or someone without a proper wristband in a restricted area.
On the plus side, the sale of alcohol will be a financial boon.
“Being able to do this now creates a far greater financial impact for Lynchburg as well.”