By Shelley Grieshop
More than 100 underage alcohol drinkers were arrested during last weekend's Country Concert at Hickory Hills in Fort Loramie.
Also cited for selling alcohol to minors on the first day of the concert, Thursday, were three Mercer County businesses as well as one in Auglaize County.
Despite the drinking violations that actually numbered 112 (up about a dozen from 2003), law enforcement officials agreed things went fairly smooth during the four-day event.
"People appeared to be more compliant," said Richard Cologie, a spokesman for the Ohio Investigative Unit of the Department of Public Safety. "I think more people realize there are undercover agents out there on the grounds each year."
Cologie said agents and Shelby County Sheriff's deputies heard comments from concertgoers who said they waited until turning 21 before coming to the outdoor festival for fear they'd get "nailed" for drinking. Shelby County Sheriff Kevin O'Leary could not be reached for comment, but a spokeswoman from the department said it was a "peaceful" week with no serious incidents reported.
Approximately 20 liquor control agents and 40 Shelby County deputies patrolled the concert area and nearby campground throughout the weekend.
The annual concert draws thousands of people from all over the world to listen to top country music stars. This year's line-up included popular singers Brooks & Dunn, Martina McBride and Charlie Daniels.
Of the alcohol violators arrested on the grounds of Hickory Hills, 106 were under the age of 21 and six were adults cited for purchasing alcohol for minors.
The underage drinkers will appear in local courts for the first-degree misdemeanor charge and face up to six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. The adults face the same penalty in area courts including a mandatory minimum $500 fine.
The state liquor agents also made their way around Mercer and Auglaize counties on July 7 and cited four businesses and four individuals for selling alcohol to minors. The business owners must appear before the state liquor control commission for possible fines, liquor license permit suspensions or revocations. The individuals who sold the alcohol will appear in local courts facing a maximum six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
The following is a list of the businesses and individuals who received citations for selling to minors:
´ Rockford Carry-Out & Drive Thru, 156 S. Main St.; Nicholas A. Sell, 25, of Rockford.
´ Knap's Carry-Out, 220 E. Main St., Coldwater; Jay Knapschaefer, 20, of Coldwater.
´ Docksider's Marathon, 303 S. Main St., Celina; Jamie J. Teeters, 26, of Celina.
´ City Side, 505 Park St., Wapakoneta; Mac D. McIntyre, 28, of Wapakoneta.