Planning ahead crucial for safe Maryland Wine Festival

The Maryland Wine Festival, which ran on Saturday and Sunday, welcomed more than 12,000 attendees to the Carroll County Farm Museum. On Saturday, no arrests were made in the county related to drinking and driving, and on Sunday just one arrest was made.

“In the end, the public does a really good job policing themselves,” said Capt. David Stem of the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office.

Approximately 30 deputies were present at the event each day and they monitored exits for people who may have attempted to drive under the influence of alcohol. According to Stem, if a person was intoxicated and had not planned ahead a method to safely and legally leave the festival, sheriff’s deputies would assist that person with finding a taxi or car service like Uber or calling a friend to pick them up.

The farm museum allowed attendees to leave parked cars on the property following the festival if needed.

For most, planning ahead was the key to successful transportation home from the festival. Designated driver tickets were available at a reduced price of admission. According to Stem, the festival saw an increase in the sale of those tickets for this year’s event.

“Every year we see a slight increase in designated driver sales because it seems like people are more conscious of planning ahead,” said Joanne Weant, manager of the Farm Museum.

Those who attended to sample wines were encouraged beforehand to sample responsibly and take advantage of the free water and multiple food vendors.

“Overall, we encourage responsible consumption,” Weant said

With the amount of alternatives available to driving while intoxicated, Sheriff Jim DeWees said, “It’s never good when even one person is arrested.”

“In today’s world that’s absolutely unacceptable,” he said. “There’s no reason for anyone to leave intoxicated and get behind the wheel of the car.”

Planning for the event begins months in advance and requires collaboration between the Sheriff’s Office, the Farm Museum, Emergency Management of Carroll County, the Westminster Volunteer Fire Company and the Maryland Wineries Association. This culminates in an emergency management plan of about 25 pages, Weant said.

She said the festival has been very fortunate to have had no major incidents and that maintaining a positive relationship with the community is important.

“We do really recognize that we are in a residential community,” she said.

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