With the budding of the Azaleas, Dogwoods, and Daffodils there also comes the bustle of summer festivals. While festivals are most definitely fun family outings, there are hidden dangers. In Charlotte alcohol is most always present and prevalent at public festivals. Additionally, the University of North Carolina, Charlotte’s Urban Institute community survey data indicated that 36.7% of respondents agreed that public events in Charlotte Mecklenburg overemphasize the marketing, sale and consumption of alcohol. Festival assessments are a key environmental strategy in reducing underage access to alcohol according to the Prevention Resource Center.
This year volunteers from the Charlotte Mecklenburg Drug Free Coalition (CMDFC) will conduct assessments at Speed Street, Taste of Charlotte, and 4th of July Celebration. Since 2009, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Drug Free Coalition has attended summer festivals to monitor alcohol sales and conduct assessments of festival compliance with alcohol policies and laws. It is vitally important that CMDFC conduct these assessments as the 2010 Youth Drug Survey conducted by Center for Prevention Services indicated that 38.6% of youth who have consumed alcohol in the past 30 days in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools reported getting it at concerts or festival events. In 2009 Mecklenburg ABC Law Enforcement issued 45 underage drinking citations, since CMDFC began the assessments that number has dropped to 21 in 2011. The CMDFC has developed an excellent partnership with Mecklenburg County ABC law enforcement and festival planners; CMDFC meets regularly with officers and planners to discuss their findings and ways to improve festival vendors and attendee’s compliance.
The successes of our festival assessments are largely due to the combined efforts of our Coalition Members and Students Preventing and Informing on Drugs and Alcohol (SPIDA) youth group who loyally volunteer every season to conduct assessments. The combined effort allows the coalition to receive unique perspectives on community festivals from youth and adults. Volunteers attend festivals observing festival conditions such as lighting, signage, festival sponsorship, proper id compliance, designated alcohol beverage drinking areas, and general alcohol consumption. After attending event, volunteers are asked to complete a one page festival assessment form, which asks questions based on their observations.
The Charlotte Mecklenburg Drug Free Coalition is made up of a group of individuals, corporations and government agencies whose mission is to promote awareness, action and advocacy for the purpose of reducing the harmful impacts of alcohol and other drug abuse and addiction on youth, families and our community. For more information on CMDFC contact Becky Catoe-Aikey at 704-375-3784 or firstname.lastname@example.org.