Adding a beer garden to the activities associated with the Pratt Community College Rodeo drew lots of questions at the PCC Trustees meeting Monday night.
The rodeo loses money every year and the college is seeking additional activities that would increase revenues and a beer garden is one of the activities under consideration.
Attorney Jess Hoeme of Joseph, Hollander & Craft LLC in Wichita was on hand to share his expertise on how other rodeos successfully operate a beer garden.
A top issue was the college’s liability for hosting a beer garden. If a 20 year old would leave the scene and have an accident, where would liability lie?
Other questions were raised about having a beer garden associated with the college.
First of all, Hoeme said people were already drinking beer at this type of event anyway. Empty beer cans on site testify to that. Having a beer garden would allow some control of beer consumption.
“It’s happening anyway. You should try to manage it,” Hoeme said.
Hoeme said a beer garden would be conducted under a very controlled environment. A vendor would be hired to operate the garden that would be set up in a specific area.
Hoeme suggested having an enclosed area made of six-foot tall panels would proved a suitable pen for a drinking area. A common serving method is a big stock tank filled with ice and beer or a trailer with a serving door with the beer on ice inside the trailer.
The area would have only one entrance and everyone would have to go through the entrance to get in or get out.
A security guard would be at the entrance to check IDs and make sure that no one was under age. A special armband would also be used as another form of ID for security.
No one can go into the beer garden with a beer and no one can leave with a beer. If someone tries to break these rules, they are gone.
“There is zero tolerance,” Hoeme said. “Nothing in. Nothing out.”
Getting a vendor is a key aspect of a successful beer garden. They have experience in the operations and have personnel that know when a patron needs to stop drinking.
Hoeme said communicating with local law enforcement, city and county commissioners as well as alcohol beverage control will help assure that everyone is on the same page and there are no surprises the days of the event.
Beer gardens have proven records for a significant financial return and that would be expected at PCC.
Trustee Darrell Shumway said he wanted to know more about liability and what existing insurance at the college covers for this type of activity as opposed to events like the college auction that takes place off campus where alcohol is served.
Questions on licensing need to be answered as well as more information on liability.
“I have a lot of questions I want answered,” Shumway said.
Hoeme said he would work with the college to get the answers and if they decide to use his services, he requested sponsorship opportunities at the beer garden.
The PCC rodeo is scheduled for Oct. 3, 4 and 5.
In other Trustee agenda items, Gail Withers, dean of nursing, said the nursing department continued to make positive progress in meeting all the requirements for accreditation. The staff is working on the necessary curriculum changes and the self-study report, due Dec. 1, is going well. An accreditation team visit will visit sometime in January or February. Withers said she was happy with the department progress.
Lisa Perez Miller, vice president of student/enrollment management, said enrollment for summer school was seven percent behind last year and fall enrollment was four percent below 2013 at this same time.
Returning student numbers are down as are transfers but it is still early for fall numbers. On the plus side, residence hall numbers for the fall are up from over a year ago.