NewsLocal News


Wedding Barn venues file lawsuit against the state over liquor license law

Posted at 6:44 PM, Jan 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-15 19:44:34-05

Two Wisconsin wedding venues have filed a lawsuit against the state to get a clear answer on whether they are required to have a liquor license or not.

As barn weddings have grown in popularity Wisconsin farmers hosting the celebrations on their property have been able to operate legally without liquor licenses for years.

However, confusion has been brewing since former Attorney General Brad Schimel offered an informal opinion in the fall on whether wedding barns are considered public spaces and required to have a liquor license.

"As it stands right now previously everybody was kind of on the same page. We said you don't need a liquor license for this. Now you had the previous attorney general say you may need to do this. We're not sure if somebody's going to adopt that and begin enforcing going forward," said Lucas Vebber, Deputy Counsel with the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty.

Venues like Farmview Event Barn in Berlin, Wisconsin have embraced the idea of hosting private weddings. Owner Jean Bahn said 2018 was their first full season. At the same time, Bahn said uncertainty over liquor licenses makes it tough to look ahead.

"As I understand it I would have to have equipment installed and a ton more paperwork. It's just not the business that I had intended to operate," said Bahn.

The Wisconsin Institute of Law and Liberty filed the suit on behalf of Farmview Event Bar and The Weddin' Barn in Menomonie, Wisconsin to get a straight answer.

"If they're required to get a liquor license they have to pay $10,000 in one of our cases. Our other client isn't even sure if they can get a liquor license," said Vebber.

"It's important to me on whether if I can even continue or not," said Bahn.

When asked about the suit Melissa Baldauff with Gov. Tony Evers' administration sent the following statement:

"The Governor and Secretary-designee Barca are still learning more about this issue."