One of the first things that comes to mind when thinking of college towns is the underground music scene, and Boone is no different.
With bars and venues such as Black Cat, Boone Saloon, The Local and Legends hosting local bands from around Boone and the High Country, Appalachian State University’s students are treated to a healthy music scene.
However, many students do not get to experience these live shows, as many of the venues around town require that people be 21 years old or over to attend.
The biggest venues that have this rule are The Local, Boone Saloon and Ransom Cafe and Pub, all of which host events on the regular.
However, two of these venues, Ransom and The Local, offer some exceptions.
When asked about the policy, Nolen Hughes, a host for The Local, stated that people under the age of 21 could attend events if they were on the guest list for the band that was performing.
Taylor Pitt, a floor manager for Ransom, said that while the general rule for events at Ransom was that no one under the age of 21 was allowed, there were certain events that did allow people 18 and older to attend, and that this would be made clear on posters for the event.
As for Boone Saloon, they are very hard and fast about their rules.
Furthermore, it is highly unlikely that this would ever change. Skip Sinanian, the owner of Boone Saloon, stated in an interview when asked if the policy could change, “I don’t think so. I’ve tried it a couple times, like um, bands at the door, that type of thing and it always backfires. It backfires every time. I’ve tried it maybe a handful of times.”
Of course, there are venues around town that do allow for people under the age of 21 to attend shows.
Black Cat requires that people who attend their shows be at least 18. At these events, they provide those patrons with a distinguishing mark in order to prevent their bartenders from serving drinks.
Galileo’s is another place that allows for people under the age of 18 to attend events; however, events are rarely held here.
Finally, Legends is another place that allows people under the age of 21 to attend events. However, as of right now Legends has been closed, and there is no official word as to whether it will open up again.
As of right now there are not many opportunities for students under the age of 21 to attend live shows around Boone.
To many this may seem unfair, but unfortunately that is the way it has to be.
When asked about the repercussions of the law finding out if someone under the age of 21 was drinking, Sinanian stated that the bartender on duty would be fined at least $500, the establishment would be fined at least $1,000, and the bartender would have to do 20 hours of community service. Furthermore, he says that this could potentially cause the Alcohol Law Enforcement to shut down the establishment.
No establishment wants to run the risk of that. Furthermore, allowing people under 21 into the events would be bad for business.
When asked if not having underage students attending events hurt profits, Sinanian said, “If you’re here for a show and you know, the money we get from the door is for the musicians. That doesn’t go for the bar. That’s for the band, and now we have people in here not spending any money. And at the end of the day it is a business.”
He later went on to say that “I can only have a certain number of people in here. So if there was like, 100 people in here who are underage, that means I have 49 people of age spending money, so you know.”
At the end of the day these venues letting underage people in to live events is just too much of a liability.
So while it may seem unfair and limits what many underage students can do around Boone, it is better to have these places be limited and have them for the future, rather than not have them at all.
Q Russell is a junior journalism major from Charlotte, North Carolina. You can follow him on Twitter at @Q_M_Russell
Photo by: Lindsay Vaughn, Senior Photographer