Bristol to allow open carry of beer, wine coolers at 2019 Bristol Progress Days

The Bristol Village Board on Wednesday approved Bristol Progress Days doing a trial run of allowing open carry of beer and wine coolers sold at this year’s festival throughout Hansen Park.

Open carry means people purchasing beer and wine coolers at the festival could carry those drinks anywhere in the park. In the past, alcohol purchasers have had to stay within a designated portion of the park.

“They’ve talked about this for many years,” said village administrator Randy Kerkman. “This would be a one-time approval to see how it goes.”

Bristol Progress Days is a three-day community festival that includes live music, sports tournaments, food vendors, a carnival, children’s activities. A parade and fireworks take place on Sunday. 2019 is Progress Days’ 50th year.

Village President Mike Farrell, who also is a member of the independent board that governs Progress Days, pointed out other area festivals including the Kenosha County Fair and Old Settlers Oktoberfest in Paddock Lake have instituted similar polices in recent years

“It will be a test,” Farrell said. “Everyone hopes it will be a successful test.”

If the new policy is not going well, the committee is prepared to reverse the decision on the spot, Farrell said.

The strongest criticism of the change came from Trustee Carolyn Owens, who was concerned about liability for the village and the festival’s tradition as a family event.

“We’ve always promoted Progress Days as a family event,” Owens said. “I just don’t think this is something that should be done at a family event like this. I don’t think it’s a good idea … It just sends the wrong message for me.”

Trustee Ruth Atwood supported giving open carry a try.

“We don’t govern Progress Days,” Atwood said. “I say let’s give them a chance.”

Allowing open carry of beer and wine coolers at 2019 Bristol Progress Days was approved unanimously.

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