A check-out receipt at the liquor store at Snow Creek on a normal day might run $60, give or take a few bucks.

Not during the Sundance Film Festival, with its imbibing, hard-partying crowd. Not even close.

Try $60,000. And that's just one order the state-run liquor store received as film-festival week approached.

The Snow Creek store, at 12,000 square feet one of the biggest in Utah, is hopping as workers try to fill huge liquor and beer orders while tending to the lines of people walking into the store looking for smaller purchases.

"We only get that during Sundance," David Paul, who manages the Snow Creek store, says about huge orders like the one for $60,000. "They like to drink, and they have a good time."

Sundance is big business across Park City's economy, and for Hollywood and the corporate interests that arrive for the festival, Sundance is even bigger business.

Hollywood does its business over alcohol. Lots of it. At any time of day, and at just about any location.

There are few people who understand that better than Paul, who fills the special orders for the big parties and stocks the shelves of the store for the regular buyers.

There might be more customers in the aisles just before New Year's Eve, he says, but they are not buying in bulk, creating a "big part of the sales" during a year in about two weeks.

Buyers during Sundance might request, in a single order, 100 cases of vodka and 60 cases of tequila.


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They throw in 15 cases of scotch to make sure the crowd has its choice of drinks.

"It's a great revenue-maker for the state," Paul says. "I'm sure the governor really appreciates it."

Park City has long tried to portray itself as a party town in a strait-laced state, advertising its history as a rough silver-mining camp that started ignoring the Mormon Church's teetotaling teachings just after the miners arrived in the 19th century.

But the drinking habits of Parkites and the regular skiing crowd do not match those that the Sundance visitors bring. The alcohol, it seems, flows almost freely during the receptions, the mingling hours and the gatherings in rented houses, condominiums and hotel rooms.

The Park City Police Department handles scores of complaints of drunkenness during the festival, with Phil Kirk, a police captain, estimating alcohol-related cases increase up to threefold from a typical 10-day period. Many of the problems are on Main Street, but parties elsewhere in Park City often draw attention from the police.

The Snow Creek liquor store is one of three in the Park City area, and the state built it to anchor sales in the tourism-heavy city. Other local locations are in the Main Street Mall and at Kimball Junction. The selection at Snow Creek, many say, is one of the best in Utah, and the state has stocked it with the city's visitors in mind.

Paul, the manager, says the tastes vary widely during Sundance, with budget-conscious students putting down $10 for a bottle of wine and the wealthy sometimes preferring bottles retailing for $1,000.

"We have big spenders and little spenders," he says.

The store's busiest time started on Thursday, the day between two of three weekly shipments. Popular selections include Stella Artois, a Belgium-made beer and a Sundance sponsor. Another alcohol company holding a deal with the film festival's organizers, 360 Vodka, could sell well, Paul expects.

The state-run liquor stores are the only places people can buy hard alcohol and full-strength beer, a Utah rule. Grocery stores stock beer with a lower alcohol content.

At The Market at Park City, one of two grocery stores in the city, beer sales spike during Sundance, the owner, Mike Holm, says, describing that he doubles the store's normal beer order for the festival. He takes special requests as well.

"It's that big of a bump-up for Sundance," he says, calling Sundance the biggest beer-selling week of the year. "There's a lot of parties, a lot of drinking."

People who could not find enough beer on the shelves at The Market on Wednesday requested more. Holm says one person that day asked for 100 24-bottle cases of Amstel Light. Another ordered 70 cases of the same brand and added 30 cases of Heineken to his request. Someone else wanted 60 cases of an ingredient for Mojitos, a rum drink, and lots of bottled water.

"We sell more beer but less meat," Holm says. "It tells me it's a party crowd."

Alcohol: penalties include jail, fines

People caught violating Utah's laws regulating drunkenness face big fines and jail time.

Common alcohol-related criminal charges, according to the local

Justice Court, include:

Driving under the influence, generally a class B misdemeanor if nobody is injured by the driver and the person is not a repeat offender. Someone who is convicted or pleads guilty faces the possibility of a six-month sentence in jail and a $1,000 fine, with another $850 added as an assessment. Judges usually order people to alcohol-awareness classes and put them on probation. The offenders also might be required to install an ignition lock on their vehicle that requires them to pass a breath test before the car starts.

Intoxication, a class C misdemeanor punishable by 90 days in jail and a $750 fine plus a surcharge.

Being a minor in possession of alcohol or drinking alcohol, a class B misdemeanor, with a six-month sentence and $1,000 fine plus a surcharge. Buying alcohol for a minor or otherwise supplying someone underage is also a class B misdemeanor.

Failing to leave a bar when asked, a class B misdemeanor.

A Justice Court clerk says the court usually sees an increase in most alcohol-related offenses during Sundance, including intoxication charges and counts against people accused of refusing to leave a bar when asked.