Annapolis' annual beer, wine festival may move to Sandy Point State Park

February 07, 1993|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff Writer

Annapolis' annual beer and wine festival may move to Sandy Point State Park next year if state lawmakers approve changes in the county liquor law.

The festival has drawn increasingly larger crowds over the past six years and needs more room, said Bob Harrison, who manages the event for promoter Jerry Hardesty.

This year's July 24-25 event will be held at the Elks Lodge off Rowe Boulevard, near the Navy-Marine Corps Stadium. But organizers hope to move to more spacious Sandy Point in 1994.

But first, state lawmakers must amend the liquor law to create a "wine festival" license in the county similar to one in the city.

Mr. Harrison asked the county's 13 General Assembly delegates Friday to support a bill introduced by Del. Michael Busch, an Annapolis Democrat, that would create such a license as of Sept. 1.

Because state law limits each county to one wine festival event per year, the bill would repeal the city's festival-licensing authority.

Mike Nelson of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources said the festival would be allowed to use Sandy Point. But, he said, the state would expect to share in the profits from the event.

The Annapolis festival began in 1988 on the grounds of St. John's College as a promotion for Maryland wines but now showcases music, wines and microbrewery beers from Maryland and surrounding states.

After four years, the festival moved to the Elks Lodge off Rowe Boulevard when St. John's officials prohibited liquor on campus.

Last year's festival drew 9,000 visitors, Mr. Harrison said, adding that he would like to promote this year's festival as a regional event attracting wineries and connoisseurs from throughout the mid-Atlantic area.

That growth has led to friction with the surrounding residential communities that have had to accommodate the noise and traffic, Mr. Busch said. "It was felt for the long-term welfare of the wine festival, it ought to look elsewhere," he said.

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