Applications for three of the town's biggest annual events, all centered at Paonia Town Park, received approval at the June 14 town board meeting, beginning with the 2016 Paonia Cherry Days "Special Events Liquor License" and "Large Group Park/Event" applications. Alcohol sales will be confined to a specific serving area and will only be sold from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday and Monday, July 3 and 4. "There were no problems at last year's event, and staff is recommending ... approval," said Mayor Charles Stewart.
The board also approved a Park/Event Registration application and special events permit application to serve alcohol for the annual Top of the Rockies BMW Rally, scheduled for July 21-23 at Paonia Town Park. An estimated 800 bikes and riders will inhabit the park throughout the three-day event and depart the morning of July 24, according to event organizer Bob Bushta, who also represented the Cherry Days applicants.
While KVNF has historically overseen sales of beer and wine, this year the Paonia Cherry Days committee will handle the task. Bushta said that as with Cherry Days, no alcohol will be allowed out of the designated beer and wine area. However, noted Bushta, an on-premise permit does allow for campers to bring alcohol in the designated camping area. Bushta said he and the BMW Rally Master make regular rounds to ensure no glass containers are used.
Rob Miller with Pickin' Productions also received approval to hold the ninth annual free Pickin' in the Park concert series, which happens every Thursday evening at the park throughout August. KVNF North Fork Valley Public Radio received approval for a special events permit to operate the beer and wine garden.
While an alcohol mitigation plan is in place, "I do know we've had issues with marijuana smoking in the park," said Mayor Pro Tem David Bradford, who also serves on the town Parks and Recreation committee. "What plans do you have in dealing with people smoking?"
Miller said concert workers didn't witness anyone smoking last year, and heard about it after the fact. Volunteers are trained to watch for smoking, and announcements are made from the stage reminding people that no smoking of any kind is allowed in the park. "We're on the lookout for it," said Miller.
Town Manager Jane Berry said the Paonia Police Department also has a presence at the concerts, and did speak with violators last year. "Pretty much everyone cooperated and extinguished when requested," said Berry.