There was frustration last week in Canton when the Winterfest Chili Cookoff was KO'd by the NYS Department of Health...The event was to be in its 18th year, but suddenly the state took a keen interest in the health of all who may attend...I assume the hitch is that food served in a public venue must be prepared in a licensed commercial kitchen....Like a restaurant...
On the service it makes sense in that such kitchens are already under regulatory control and deemed clean. A tub of chili made at your house offers no imprimatur of legitimacy from the Empire State.
People were mad, including this newspaper columnist who decried the State for spoiling the fun. After all a similar event is held in Watertown each year with no such intervention. Organizers say the Watertown event is done under the rules and inspected. Most of the participants are restaurants.
People in a rural area think nothing of pot luck style. A game feed at a rural hotel and bar ? A Super Bowl party where customers each bring a dish ? Its all illegal and sometimes cited.
We like to think because something is run by a "not for profit" that society's rules don't adhere.
When alcohol is sold at these events, the supervision is scant and people are regularly overserved. Sales tax is not reported or paid even though its supposed to be.
We like to overlook the football pools when its at the VFW or the Legion....but its illegal......
Somehow we think because something is done among friends that its outside the control of the all powerful state with its many laws...And when they don't have laws, they have what they call declarative rulings to outlaw what no legislature ever outlawed.
In a society where people clamor for laws and are encouraged to snitch, the Winterfest Chili Festival got hoisted on society's own petard....
As for me, I think Health Department rules are there for a reason, and when they tell me to correct a problem, I do it.
Watertown Daily Times Health Department rules can make an event organizer sick