Hearing over Foxfield Liquor License

The multi-year Foxfield drinking saga continues, the latest chapter being the hearing regarding whether the ABC should yank their liquor license due to the drunkenness of many attendees. (The running joke, of course, being that UVa students are not aware of any horses being at Foxfield.) Foxfield organizers have made efforts to improve the event’s image over time, but the complaints continue to roll in after each spring and fall race. Given that Foxfield doesn’t actually need a liquor license (since people bring their own alcohol), the purpose of removing their liquor license is somewhat unclear. A ruling is expected by December. Peter Savodnik has the story in today’s Daily Progress.

5 thoughts on “Hearing over Foxfield Liquor License”

  1. Without a liquor license for the event, anyone caught drinking at Foxfield could be charged with drinking in public under VA Code sec. 4.1-308. That would mean the end of Foxfield as we know it. The ABC probably isn’t commenting because they’d love to see the license yanked, and if people think it will have no effect they might be more inclined to ignore the hearing. I’m surprised the Progress didn’t explore the legalities involved more closely.

  2. Uhhhhh, the fine for drinking in public is $20, sounds like the cost of a day of fun to me.

    I think we should have "turn yourself in" day twice a year!

    Everyone goes to foxfield, drinks heavily, then descend en masse on the courthouse steps to turn themselves in for public drunkenness. Imagine how much fun that would be?!?!? Sure beats watching horses run in a circle!

  3. Since Foxfield is held on private property, why would they need an ABC license? They aren’t selling or distributing alcohol. The code section you cite refers to public drinking. It is my understanding that drinking at Foxfield doesn’t constitute public consumption. Foxfield is neither a restaurant, bar, or retail establishment. I could be wrong, but that seems to make sense.

    It has always been my understanding that Foxfield obtained a license as a show of good faith, not because the law required them to do so.

  4. Public in this sense doesn’t refer to ownership; if it did you could go down and drink Boone’s Farm in the parking lot of the Lucky 7 all night without fear of being hassled by cops (as long as you were nice to the clerk, anyway). Public means a place or event that is open to the general public, like a store, a privately owned parking lot, or sports event; it really doesn’t matter what the nature of the premises is. Places that have various types of licenses are specifically excluded from the law.

    I know a lot of people assume that the Foxfield license is a courtesy, but if they allowed drinking before they got the license and no one did anything about it I expect it was more that no one bothered with it back before there were all the complaints you hear now. I could be wrong; this is not the sort of thing there’s a lot of case law on.

    Lars has a better point that people might just say the hell with it and drink anyway. But another law allows the state to prosecute as keepers of a common nuisance anyone who keeps an establishment where alcohol is habitually consumed (or served, sold, made, etc.) illegally. An overzealous ABC board might be able to use this to get Foxfield shut down.

    I’m not advocating any of this, despite the fact that you couldn’t pay me enough to go to Foxfield. I hate anal ABC boards and overly strict enforcement, and I hate the idea that they might be trying to kill Foxfield by stealth tactics so that concerned citizens wouldn’t bother to show up and be heard at the hearing.

  5. "I’m not advocating any of this, despite the fact that you couldn’t pay me enough to go to Foxfield"

    I wouldn’t be caught dead there myself. Personally I think it makes a better airport.

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