Legalized alcohol sales continue to lead city officials into new regulatory territory, even nearly a year after Somerset officially went wet.
Somerset City Council on Monday found themselves facing questions of what to do with small farm winery sales at local farmers’ markets.
“Unfortunately, this is one of those situations that is not written exactly clear,” said Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler during Monday’s city council meeting.
According to KRS 243.155, alcohol sellers at certain events, such as “fairs, festivals, and other similar types of events,” aren’t required to obtain separate licenses, such as off-premise licenses, temporary business licenses, and other licenses as required by a municipality.
Although KRS 243.155 doesn’t specifically point out farmers’ markets as included in the “fairs, festivals, and other similar types of events” category, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture in its farmers’ market manual states that the Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control recognizes farmers’ markets as falling within those categories.
But city officials disagree with that, and Girdler stated that a farmers’ market, with its regular hours and long-term operations, cannot be considered similar to a fair or festival, which require temporary licenses.
“We don’t think farmers’ markets fall under that ... exemption,” said Somerset City Attorney Carrie Wiese on Tuesday.
Wiese said the city feels strongly that small wineries should pursue off-premise alcohol sales licenses and abide by the same local ABC regulations as other alcohol businesses.
Questions about the role a farmers’ market does — or should — play in local alcohol sales began to swirl several weeks ago when Monticello-based Lake Cumberland Winery on May 4 set up a booth at the Somerset Farmers’ Market, located next to Somerset Mall on S. U.S. 27.
Lake Cumberland Winery owner Norrie Wake was unable to return a phone call by press time.