CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The Downtown Charleston ArtWalk has been a long-standing tradition for about two decades, but now concerns over state alcohol regulations have left some local artists and gallery owners worried this could be the end of the event all together.

Every third Thursday, store owners in the heart of the city open their doors for people to enjoy art, fashion, crafts, antiques and – until this year – beer and wine.

“The ABC came into another venue last year, not during an ArtWalk event, but during an anniversary event that they were planning on serving a few glasses of champagne,” said Chuck Hamsher, Purple Moon Co-Owner. “[They] said that this was not allowed.”

Hamsher said COVID already took a hit on the event, but now, without adult beverages, attendance is even lower.

“To do so we could potentially face fines or ultimately a loss of business licenses,” he said.

According to the West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration, businesses can’t sell or serve alcohol without a license.

A WVABCA Spokesperson added that the Governor and Legislature have created a number of new licenses to address activities such as art walk including the private outdoor designated area (PODA) license.

“Once a city, like Charleston, has passed an ordinance, then businesses may apply for a mere $100 per year and be entitled to sell and consume in the licensed PODA area. The city of Charleston has not passed a PODA ordinance at this time,” said a WVABCA Spokesperson.

Meanwhile, dozens of people have reached out to Hamsher and ArtWalk leaders suggesting other ways to keep the event alive for more years to come.

“We’re going to be working to resolve this answer and to use it to build ArtWalk because that’s the real focus right now,” Hamsher said. “How do we either restore ArtWalk to its former glory, or what does it look like in the future? What do we do to make sure that the arts are promoted in Charleston?”

The next ArtWalk is Thursday, Sept. 21, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.