Edmonton festivals ditch beer gardens and loosen restrictions on where alcohol can be consumed

Both K-Days and Taste of Edmonton are ditching beer gardens and opting to allow for the consumption of alcohol throughout more areas on their festival sites.

K-Days has restricted some areas from patrons wandering around with alcoholic drinks in hand, but adults can be everywhere south of the Expo Centre with their drinks. As for Taste of Edmonton, the festival has a permit for booze to be allowed throughout the event site.

The hope is to curb binge-drinking and encourage patrons to only have a few,” officials with the festivals said.

“When you put people in smaller beer gardens, they tend to stay there longer,” said Taste of Edmonton general manager Paul Lucas, “so less people get the opportunity to have a glass of beer with their family.

“This is what happens all over Europe (allowing people to walk around with alcoholic drinks), and I think it’s time for Edmonton.”

“Last year, we had it in a beer garden-style area, which limited guests from coming in and out and… kids [were] not being allowed in it,” Canadian Brewhouse regional manager Patrick Kehdy said of how things have changed at Taste of Edmonton. “It just makes it more fun for everyone enjoying the festival — they can grab some drinks and walk around and taste all the amazing food.”

Both festivals have extra security, and servers have to follow provincial liquor sale regulations. K-Days has included camera technology to keep track of possible overcrowding in the areas that allow liquor.

“We are using it to define the area that is licensed, and how many people are inside, instead of relying on the human error factor, which is obviously [going to happen] when you have crowds this big,” said Ian Sanderson, Edmonton Northlands’ operations director.

Festival-goer Rob Payne said this is his first year at Taste of Edmonton and part of the reason he came was because of the new liquor rules.

“We live just outside of town, so we took a cab in [to the city] and it was kind of a [nice] day out and we can have a few drinks and come back,” Payne said.

“It certainly played into the factor of why we came out.”


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