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Teen didn’t get alcohol at Beaver Valley May Days: organizers

Organizers of Beaver Valley May Days say a 13-year-old girl taken to hospital for excessive drinking on Friday was not served alcohol at the event.

RCMP reported the girl was found unresponsive in a washroom on the festival grounds. However, she woke up and was taken for a medical assessment.

Mike Hudson of the society that runs the event said while the girl used the washroom when she became ill, the alcohol didn’t come from their beer garden.

“She was partying next door with some kids,” he explained. “I’m not sure where they got their alcohol from. It was alcohol we were not serving at our event, so we know it wasn’t from us.”

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Hudson said the teen and her friends also told police they had been drinking before coming onto the grounds.

“We supported the RCMP and the young lady as much as we could to get her medical assistance,” he said, adding onsite first aid attendants and an off-duty nurse helped immediately. Fruitvale fire and ambulance also arrived soon after to offer assistance.

Police also arrested a couple of men at the event for being drunk in public and causing disturbances. One was challenging others to fight and the other hurled obscenities at officers.

Hudson thanked local authorities and emergency personnel for their help “as we experienced a couple of events as any celebration does.”

“The arrest reports do not reflect the level of cooperation between May Days volunteers, staff and the RCMP,” he said. “It also does not reflect all of the potentially similar incidents that were de-escalated peacefully and safely by our group of amazing volunteers and fellow May Days party goers.

Hudson said they are bound by strict provincial rules and regulations surrounding event licensing and volunteers check ID before allowing people into the beer gardens to ensure there is no underage serving.

“We also cut off guests when they need to be and remove guests if required to ensure everyone has a safe and great experience,” he said. “Our volunteers are certified in Serving it Right to ensure that no one is over-served.”

Hudson said they monitor consumption and if someone gets unruly, they’re asked to leave. However, occasionally people have arrived from private parties already drunk and wanting to join the beer garden, something they don’t allow.

Hudson added a liquor inspector visited on Sunday and was “very happy” with the overall setup of the beer gardens and its management, but suggested more signage and fencing and having someone sit at the entrance to control the flow of people and ensure no alcohol leaves the beer garden. While minors are not served, the license does allow kids to come in and out with their parents. He said they are considering some changes for next year.

He also said they employ private security and work closely with the RCMP to ensure everyone’s safety.

Hudson estimated 6,000 people attended this year’s festival, which was “well beyond” their expectations. Police also reported several impaired driving incidents over the weekend, but Hudson said the number was slightly fewer than last year.

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