Underage Drinking: Success Stories



Drinking: Success Stories



Wisconsin – August 20, 2003



of Problem










With support from the OJJDP

Enforcing the Underage Drinking Laws Initiative, community organizations, enforcement agencies, youth, and other concerned citizens are working collaboratively to

change local ordinances and enforcement practices.


At the Richland County Fair,
Children and Farmers are the Focus

Each year, except for one, residents of Richland County, Wisconsin,

have been successful in hosting an alcohol-free fair. The community views

the county fair as a family event and learned a valuable lesson when they

allowed the sale of alcohol in 1997.

Richland County, located in southwest Wisconsin, is named for its rich

farmland soil. With a population of slightly more than 18,000, the spirit

of a small community strongly exists today where citizen voices are

clearly heard.

Sarah Hibbard, the Secretary for the Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse,

and coalition member of Project Forward, a Statewide network of prevention

advocates, commented on how this history has become evident in everyday

life, ?Richland Center is unlike a lot of places I have lived. There are

27 churches in town and only 2 bars. It is a little different than most

cities in Wisconsin?.

Like many rural counties around the country, Richland County hosts an

annual county fair. The Fair Committee, composed of community members, is

in charge of most issues regarding fair exhibitors. Decisions regarding

the permission of the sale of alcohol at the fair are brought to the

Richland County Board Members for approval/denial each year.

In 1997, the County Board Members approved an alcohol sponsor to operate a

beer tent at the county fair in hopes that it would increase revenue at

the event. With careful planning, the Richland County Fair Committee

formulated official ?Beer Tent Operations Guidelines? that set clear

parameters for keeping alcohol out of the hands of underage youth.

As it turned out, the beer tent did not prove to be beneficial for the

fair or community. In fact, the beer tent, which was located toward the

back of the fairgrounds, was met with a great deal of disapproval from

community members and fair attendees. According to Sheriff Berglin,

Richland County Sheriff?s Office, ?the beer tent created quite a bit of

controversy, didn?t generate the additional income anticipated, and

created a situation where stepped up enforcement needed to be added to

help prevent incidences from occurring.?

In fact, Richland County Board Members and the community as a whole have

taken a strong stance to support an alcohol-free fair policy. The petition

is supported by council members, many of whom are key leaders in the

community. The petition stresses the fact that the focus of the fair is

around children, their families, and farming. This past year, Sarah

Hibbard wrote in the petition, ?This is a family event for families to

spend time together. ? beer tents do nothing much but call for added law


The Richland County Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, the County Board,

and community members have demonstrated a strong commitment to keeping the

County Fair alcohol-free. This results in an environment where children,

families, and farmers are celebrated in a positive way, without the

presence of alcohol and the often tragic results that occur when youth and

alcohol mix.

For more information, contact

Sarah Hibbard, Richland County Health & Human

Services at

[email protected] or 608-647-6384 or the Richland County

Sheriff?s Department at 800-544-2106.




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Underage Drinking: Success Stories
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