Lake Barkley State Resort Park became eligible to sell alcohol early this month. But the park started with a “soft opening” — offering only beer cans at the golf course pro shop — and just introduced its full selection at the dining room and convention center on Tuesday night.

The park now offers wine, liquor and bottled beer, including a range of Kentucky brands, Park Manager John Jordan said.

However, the new beverage choices entered the menu quietly. The park will not advertise alcohol products, and it will not add a bar to the dining room, Jordan said.

“We’re not pushing sales,” he said. “It’s just another choice for the customers here because we still want it to be a family-oriented place.”

Trigg Judge-Executive Stan Humphries told the New Era in June he worried the presence of alcohol might repel tourists and convention groups who preferred the park’s dry status.

A consulting company conducted a study of Kentucky’s park system last year and recommended ways the parks could modernize and stabilize their finances. During the 2008-09 fiscal year, the parks only generated enough

revenue to cover 64 percent of their operating costs.

The consulting firm recommended introducing alcohol sales as a way to attract more tourists. Lake Barkley and the other four parks in wet counties all applied for licenses and received them on Aug. 1, said Gil Lawson, spokesman for the Kentucky Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet.

Two parks will only sell beer on their golf courses. The others introduced alcohol sales gradually, on a schedule similar to Lake Barkley’s. Staff members received special training to ensure they don’t serve minors or serve too much alcohol to any customers, Lawson said.

Lawson believes the alcohol sales will spur more business with the convention centers and golf courses, leading to more people staying overnight.

Revenue from each park’s alcohol sales will go into a general fund that helps all of Kentucky’s 51 state parks.

Despite the absence of advertising, Jordan agrees the alcohol sales will likely attract more tourists as the word spreads.

The park will offer Kentucky wines and bourbons at the dining room and convention center. It will offer bottled Kentucky beers in the dining room, but most beer served at the convention center will come in kegs, Jordan said.

Reach Nick Tabor at 270-887-3231 or ntabor@kentuckynewera.com.

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