SALT LAKE CITY — The state alcohol commission revamped a licensing policy Tuesday that nearly left Snowbird's annual Oktoberfest dry last year.

"No more Oktoberfest issue, I can guarantee you," said commission Chairman David Gladwell. "We rebuilt the special permit rule from scratch."

Confusion over how the Utah Legislature intends for single-event permits to be used prompted the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to rewrite the regulations. Commissioners were hung up on a requirement that the event be charitable or nonprofit.

"That was one of the first elements we eliminated right off the bat," Gladwell said.

The new rules give DABC Executive Director Sal Petilos more discretion in granting the permits. He estimated that he approved about 600 special-event permits last year.

Gladwell said commissioners removed "a lot of troubling language" from the old policy. Now, if the event meets the basic requirements and the community in which it's held approves, the agency would issue the permit, he said.

The issue came to the forefront last year when the commission debated whether to give Snowbird a permit for its sixth annual Brewfest. The Father's Day weekend event featured local and out-of-state breweries and live music.

Commissioners ultimately approved the Brewfest permit but signaled that things would tighten up in the future, which could have affected events such as Oktoberfest, the Utah Art Festival and the Greek Festival.

That there might not be any beer at Oktoberfest, which draws thousands of people for German food, music and dance, brought a shower of negative publicity to DABC.

The agency spent months rewriting the single-event permit rules to make them more clear. Gladwell said no DABC policy has had more public input or vetting.


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