Havre de Grace Seafood Festival, Tidewater Grille found guilty of liquor license violations

The Harford County Liquor Control Board found the Havre de Grace Seafood Festival Inc. guilty of several violations stemming from its event Aug. 11 and 12 and levied a $3,000 fine against the event's organizers.

Lori Maslin, licensee for the event, didn't contest the violations during a hearing Wednesday afternoon, but said she was surprised to find out about them by being called to come before the board and not informed by the board's chief inspector.

The Seafood Festival, which was held at Tydings Park, was found guilty of allowing consumption of alcoholic beverages outside of the approved area, allowing alcoholic beverages not purchased from the licensed premises to be brought into the area and failure to maintain control of the approved outside service area.

In addition, Maslin will be required to come in and present a plan to the liquor board that addresses the issues from this year prior to next year's event.

Chief Inspector Charles Robbins testified that on the days in question he inspected the event and found several violations.

Several areas of fencing were missing or had fallen to the ground, he said, and signage alerting attendees that they could not take alcoholic beverages out of the fenced-in area were missing.

Robbins noted that he saw more than one instance of a festival attendee carrying an alcoholic drink outside of the premises.

In another violation, Robbins said he saw a woman exit the festival, go to a car at the nearby marina parking lot with a nearly empty clear cup of beer in her hand and come back from the car with a full cup of beer. This happened multiple times, Robbins said.

Volunteer monitors were also lacking at gaps in fencing where people were leaving and coming back.

There was also an issue of seeing people drink alcoholic beverages that had not been stamped and given a wristband that indicated they had been carded and were of legal age.

During the 2009 Seafood Festival, Robbins testified that there were similar issues and read from that report.

Proper signage was not visible at that event and volunteers were often not manning the entrances and exits.

Robbins said he saw people drinking while watching kids on the playground, outside of the approved event area, and a man who was visibly intoxicated continued to be served beer.

Robbins informed Maslin of the issues, which she addressed, and offered to provide training to volunteers to avoid future violations.

Robbins did not attend the event in 2011 and did not inspect the 2010 festival.

Maslin testified that once Robbins informed her of the violations this year they were "immediately corrected" and there were no issues in 2010 and 2011.

Wrist bands ran out the first night of the event, she said, and not every person is given one if they obviously look to be of age.

She wasn't sure why the "volunteers didn't do what they were supposed to do" and prevent people from leaving the area with alcoholic drinks.

"We want nothing more than to have a good event," Maslin said, "and to have no issues and no violations of the law."

She added that she was "surprised" when she received the report from Robbins and was informed she would need to appear before the board because there have been so little issues in the event's 20 years and after the 2009 event Robbins contacted her immediately, which he did not do this time.

Chairman Donald Hess said Maslin's biggest problem with the event is the number of volunteers and the festival has gotten "too big" to not have hired security.

Commissioner Thomas Fidler agreed and added that normal procedures for other large events in the county give wristbands to every person of legal drinking age, regardless of how old they look.

Tidewater Grille

Tidewater Grille in Havre de Grace was also found guilty by the board for serving alcohol to an underage employee of the liquor board.

The restaurant was fined $250 because it was the first violation under the license.

Licensee Ralph M. Shapot did not contest the violation, which came from an Aug. 11 compliance test.

"We take serving alcohol to minors very, very seriously," he told the board. Shapot added that servers are told to ask for identification from anyone who looks to be younger than 40 years old.

The waitress who served the board employee, Justin Rogers, was "dismissed immediately," Shapot said, and was "very sorry this happened."

Outside event application

Coakley's Pub in Havre de Grace had an outside event application approved to cater the Run For Your Lives race in Darlington Oct. 27 and 28.

The application, however, is contingent upon the race receiving the proper permits from the county.

Last year, the race was unprepared for the amount of attendees and had serious issues with traffic backing up on Route 1 and 161, parking and cars getting stuck in the muddy field where they were parked.

As of Wednesday, the county had not approved the necessary permits for the race.

Other business

During Wednesday's liquor board meeting several one day beer and wine licenses were approved by the board. They are: a dance fundraiser at the Havre de Grace Community Center Oct. 27 held by the Havre de Grace Chamber of Commerce; a bull roast Nov. 3 at Deer Creek Overlook by the Committee to Elect Wayne Norman; a Harford County Chamber of Commerce networking event Nov. 8 at the Freedom Federal Credit Union; a fundraiser for Paws For Life of Harford County Nov. 10 at Harford Day School.

A one day beer, wine and liquor license was also approved for an arts festival held by Harford Day School Nov. 2 at The Field House.

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