Cash Beverage Sales Could Return for Special Events

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For years events like Naperville Ribfest and The Last Fling have used beverage tickets for attendees to purchase drinks, in order to prevent internal mishandling and theft.

“Approximately eight to 10 years ago we had it brought to our attention, and it started out with the exchange club at Ribfest, that there was a lot of volunteers that were stealing money. We had on one day an estimated $20,000 stolen from the event where it was at the door as well as people from all over the country just to work Ribfest, taking money,” explained Detective Dan Riggs with the Naperville Police Department.

But over the years organizers of such events have complained about the inefficiencies of having eventgoers wait in multiple lines.

“These are about bad internal controls that organizations have that make them exposed to a theft,” said Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico. “And so through the liquor commission we’re kind of adding this rule that takes the responsibility off of them where it’s suppose to be.”

With that in mind, the Naperville Liquor Commission is now considering going back to allowing cash beverage sales for special permits.

Commissioners agreed that waiting in more than one line can deter purchases; but some worried cash sales could increase mishandling by those working or volunteering at the events.

“I’ve got kind of mixed feelings. I get that there might be a smaller event where you’re only serving a couple hundred people in total attendance, and it’s kind of goofy to have a place where you buy tickets and then you go get in line,” said Commissioner Scott Wehrli. “But the larger events where you literally have 10-, 20-, 30- thousand people there – I can’t think of one [event] in the Chicagoland area that’s not doing some sort of ticketing or some sort of concept like that.”

The commission agreed to have city staff research what other area liquor commissions are requiring of their event beverage sales and to come back with that data at the next meeting for discussion.

Ribfest tried a new system this year that eliminated beverage tickets and opted for RFID wristbands or cash payment. The Exchange Club of Naperville is still deciding whether they’ll bring the wristbands back for 2019’s event.

Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports.