We are writing today specifically to Village of Cardington voters to urge your support for two questions related to alcohol on your May primary ballot. The purpose of these questions, in the immediate term, is to allow Cardington to host a Wine & Arts Festival in Cardington this fall. We’d first like to give you some information to answer your questions and earn your vote.
Why does this have to go on the ballot?
While Prohibition ended nationwide in 1933, effects from it are still felt today. One of those is the “local option” process. What that means is that a locality—divided by voting precinct—is dry for alcohol until such time as the voters exercise their local option to approve otherwise. That was done for beer almost immediately after Prohibition. That is why many Cardington residents remember past “beer gardens” in the park. However, it has not been done for on-premise consumption of wine or liquor. Until such time as voters approve that change, we cannot hold a festival.
But there are establishments in Cardington that already serve wine and liquor. How does that work?
An option available to businesses with liquor permits is to have a local option election for a specific location. This means that voters approve that specific location for serving wine and liquor while the rest of the precinct remains dry. This has happened in Cardington several times.
What is the specific language on my ballot?
There are four questions that can be asked in a precinct-wide local option election. Two passed in 1977 relating to state liquor stores and off-premise (carryout) consumption. We are asking the other two.
1) Shall the sale of wine and mixed beverages, under permits which authorize sale for on-premise consumption only, and under permits which authorize sale for both on-premise and off—premise consumption be permitted?
2) Shall the sale of spirituous liquors by the glass be permitted?
Why are there two questions?
The first question deals with wine, the second question with liquor. The first question must pass in order to hold the festival. If we remain dry for wine, there can be no festival. Local option elections are time consuming and paperwork intensive processes. We are asking both questions at once so that down the road we don’t have to do this again. This was the thinking of village leaders in 1977 when they asked the initial two questions noted above.
Will this cost me anything?
Absolutely not! This is not a levy question and has nothing to do with taxes or millage. There is no cost whatsoever.
What does this mean beyond the Wine and Arts Festival?
There are numerous civic and economic benefits to changing our status. First, it allows more options on future events. If a local organization wanted to partner with a local distillery to host, say, a bourbon tasting in the village, we could do that without having to go to the ballot again. Second, Cardington will be the only village in Morrow County to have done this. Let’s say down the road a restaurant was looking to open in our area. If they already had a liquor license and valid permits, they could open and begin operating without having to go through the time consuming and expensive process of getting on the ballot. That puts Cardington at a competitive economic advantage in our county for attracting new and diverse businesses.
What does this NOT mean?
This will not turn Cardington into the Wild West. Liquor licenses are available based on population. No more licenses will be made available because of this election. No one will be able to open or operate an establishment serving alcohol without going through the existing permitting and licensing procedures. We will not have a bar on every corner. All that this changes is that new establishments will not have to seek voter approval every single time. Similarly, this in no way affects open container laws. Our festival is seeking a one day permit that will allow wine samples and glasses to be served in a roped off area of the park and no consumption is allowed outside of the designated area. We have partnered with village officials and the Cardington Police Department and take our duty to run a responsible festival very seriously.
Why should I vote for this?
Cardington rightly prides itself on its vibrant civic life. This festival promises to be a bright new addition to our annual calendar of events, bringing visitors and dollars to town that might otherwise never come. In addition, this update of century old law puts us in a stronger position to take control of our economic development, which ultimately creates more jobs and opportunities for our residents. This is a common sense next step in the story of Cardington as we honor our strong commitment to community and create the brightest possible future for the next generation.
We hope that we will earn your support and vote. Please reach out to us if you have any additional questions, feedback, or concerns. Thank you for your support.
The Cardington Wine & Arts Festival Committee
Rick Mitchell, Chairman