BENTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA/FOX24) — New Year’s Day might be bigger than in past years in Bentonville and Rogers. That’s because people in those cities will officially be able to start buying alcohol on Sundays beginning Jan. 1.
That day just so happens to fall on a Sunday.
Voters in both communities overwhelmingly supported Sunday alcohol sales during the November midterm, with 74% supporting it in Bentonville and 70% supporting it in Rogers.
The Alcoholic Beverage Control Division, part of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, received certified election results last week, making it official that those sales will begin in the new year.
These two cities are joining Springdale in being able to sell alcohol in places like grocery stores and liquor stores in Northwest Arkansas on Sundays.
Scott Hardin with the Department of Finance said Northwest Arkansas is leading the way on Sunday alcohol sales across the state.
“Whether it’s sporting events or arts and culture, it’s such a draw, so it becomes [important for] keeping revenue at home and then it’s just a benefit to all those tourists that are in town,” he said.
The Arkansas state legislature passed a law allowing individual cities to pass Sunday alcohol sales by ballot measure in 2009.
With the addition of Bentonville and Rogers, Hardin said there are now 21 Arkansas communities that have passed this measure. He said all are in north or central Arkansas except for Arkansas City in the southeastern part of the state.
“We’re baffled as to why the rest of the state hasn’t taken advantage of this,” he said. “Especially when you can drive across the border and get it in another state like Missouri. It’s all about keeping revenue at home.”
Fayetteville is the last major Northwest Arkansas city that doesn’t allow Sunday alcohol sales. Hardin believes it comes down to there not being an organized effort to get it on the ballot.
He said to get Sunday alcohol sales on the ballot, you have to get signatures from 15% of the number of people in that community who voted in the most recent election for governor.
The daily timeframe to buy alcohol on Sundays in Arkansas is from 10 a.m. to midnight.