Long considered one of Maine’s few remaining “dry towns,” Allagash got a little wetter over the weekend when voters passed two articles to allow alcohol consumption in local businesses.
Although the town passed a measure in the early 1990s allowing the sale of packaged beer and wine in stores, consumption of any form of alcohol was not allowed in public places. Allagash currently has no stores.
“What’s new about this, is people will be able to consume alcohol on the premises; before this was never allowed,” said Nola McBreairty Begin, the town’s first selectman.
At the Allagash annual town meeting on Saturday, voters cast secret ballots 38-10 in favor of Article 34: To see if the inhabitants of the town of Allagash will vote and approve the sale of liquor to be consumed on the premises of licensed establishments on days other than Sunday.
The voters also approved Article 35, by a vote of 34-14: To see if the inhabitants of the town of Allagash will vote and approve the sale of liquor to be consumed on the premises of licensed establishments on Sunday.
McBreairty Begin added that, despite the passage of the two articles, proprietors still will need to receive approval from the Maine Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations in order to sell alcohol.
“They have to apply for a liquor license through the state of Maine. We just as a town say they can do this, but the state decides and makes the final decision of who can sell alcohol,” she said.
Allagash native and Maine Senate President Troy Jackson said the new town ordinances have the potential to benefit local businesses.
“I am good with it. It was a good vote in support by the town,” he said.
Allagash resident Margaret McBreairty agreed Sunday.
“Economically it is a great thing. People will actually be able to relax in town and spend their money there. I am very glad it passed and hope that it will lead to new business,” she said.
Kelly’s North Woods Lodge co-owner Sue Underhill Kelly said her business plans to apply for a liquor license.
“We were very pleased Allagash residents passed these articles. It will benefit all current and future businesses of Allagash in the hospitality industry. Many customers have requested or expressed interest in the idea of enjoying a glass of wine or beer with their pizza, and now we have the freedom to pursue it.”
Darlene Kelly Dumond, co-owner of Two Rivers Lunch in Allagash, said her family has not yet decided whether to apply for a liquor license.
“Two Rivers has been in our family for over 40 years, and although it is an exciting option, now we will be in discussion as a family going forward,” Kelly Dumond said.
Dumond added her support for passage of the articles.
“[This is] proof, that a democratic process, a little initiative and the action of voting can bring about change anywhere in these United States — even in a community on the edge of America,” she said.
This story was originally published in the Fiddlehead Focus.